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" n REGfSTR . : 




Department of the Army Pamphlet 

No. 20-271 

Washington 25, D.C., 15 December 1959 

Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-271 is published for the in- 
formation and use of all concerned. 
[AG 385 (9 Jun 59)] 

By Order of Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army: 


R. V. LEE, 
Major General, United States Army, 
The Adjutant General. 


General, United States Army, 
Chief of Staff. 

Distribution : 

Active Army: 

ACSI (5) 
ACSRC (5) 
CA (2) 
GoA (2) 


CoF (2) 

GINFO (12) 

CNGB (2) 

GLL (2) 

CRD (2) 

CMH (125) 

TIG (2) 

TJAG (2) 

TPMG (2) 

TAG (2) 

CofCh (2) 

Tech Stf, DA (5) 

Tech Stf Hist Ofc (2) 


OS Maj Comd (5) except 
Hist Div, USAREUR (5) 

MDW (5) 

Armies (5) 

Corps (5) 

Div (5) 

Bde (2) 

Rgt/Gp/Bg (5) 
Bn (4) 

USAWC (10) 


Br SvcSch (2) 

Joint Sch (2) 

Specialist Sch (2) 

PMST Sr Div Units (1) 

PMST Jr Div Units (1) 

PMST Mil Sch Div Units ( 1 ) 

MAAG (5) 


ADGRU (NG) (1) 


NG: State AG (3). 
USAR: USAR Sch (2). 

For explanation of abbreviations used, see AR 320—50. 


The Office of the Chief of Military History of the Department of the 
Army is currently preparing a series of studies on German military 
operations in World War II against forces other than those of the United 
States. In addition to the volumes already published dealing with 
Poland and the Balkans and the present volume on Norway and Fin- 
land, these monographs will cover German operations in Russia, France 
and the Low Countries. These campaign studies are being made 
available to the General Staff and to the Army schools and colleges as 
reference works. They will also prove of value to all who are interested 
in military affairs. 

The German campaigns in Norway and Finland established land- 
marks in the evolution of military science even though they failed in the 
long run to influence the outcome of the war. In the invasion of Nor- 
way the Germans executed the first large-scale amphibious (in fact 
triphibious) operation of World War II. The subsequent German 
operations out of Finland provided the first, and still unique, instance 
of major military forces operating in the Arctic and created a precedent, 
at least, for the inclusion of that region, once considered almost totally 
inaccessible, in strategic considerations. In these respects the operations 
in the German Northern Theater have a direct association with concepts 
of warfare which have not yet reached their final stage of development 
and are, therefore, of current and possible future interest. 


This volume describes two campaigns that the Germans conducted 
in their Northern Theater of Operations. The first they launched, on 
9 April 1940, against Denmark and Norway. The second they con- 
ducted out of Finland in partnership with the Finns against the Soviet 
Union. The latter campaign began on 22 June 1941 and ended in the 
winter of 1944-45 after the Finnish Government had sued for peace. 

The scene of these campaigns by the end of 1941 stretched from the 
North Sea to the Arctic Ocean and from Bergen on the west coast of 
Norway, to Petrozavodsk, the former capital of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet 
Socialist Republic. It faced east into the Soviet Union on a 700-mile- 
long front, and west on a 1,300-mile sea frontier. Hitler regarded this 
theater as the keystone of his empire, and, after 1941, maintained in it 
two armies totaling over a half million men. 

In spite of its vast area and the effort and worry which Hitler lavished 
on it, the Northern Theater throughout most of the war constituted 
something of a military backwater. The major operations which took 
place in the theater were overshadowed by events on other fronts, and 
public attention focused on the theaters in which the strategically de- 
cisive operations were expected to take place. Remoteness, German 
security measures, and the Russians' well-known penchant for secrecy 
combined to keep information concerning the Northern Theater down 
to a mere trickle, much of that inaccurate. Since the war, through 
official and private publications, a great deal more has become known. 
The present volume is based in the main on the greatest remaining 
source of unexploited information, the captured German military and 
naval records. In addition a number of the participants on the German 
side have very generously contributed from their personal knowledge 
and experience. 





Chapter 1 . The Background of German Operations in 

Norway and Denmark 1 

The Scandinavian Dilemma 1 

A Siege of Britain 3 

The Hitler-Quisling Talks, December 1939 7 

The First Planning Phase 10 

Studie Nord 10 

The Krancke Staff 13 

The Decision to Occupy Norway 16 

The Appointment of Falkenhorst 16 

The Fuehrer Directive 17 

Hitler's Decision 19 

Allied. Objectives and Intentions . . 22 

2. The Plan WESERUEBUNG 26 

The Problem 26 

The Navy 27 

Group XXI 30 

The Command Organization 30 

The Ground Forces, Norway 32 

The Ground Forces, Denmark 35 

The Air Foice 36 

Political Planning 38 

3. The Landings 40 

Weseruebung Begins 40 

Narvik and Trondheim 44 

Bergen, Stavanger, Egersund, Kristiansand, and Arendal. . 48 

Oslo 51 

The Return of the Warships 53 

Supply and Troop Transport 55 

Diplomatic and Political Moves 56 

The Occupation of Denmark 59 

4. Operations in Southern and Central Norway . 63 

The Command Crisis 63 

The Advance Northward from Oslo 65 

The Breakout 65 

To Trondheim 73 

Operations at Trondheim 77 

Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand 82 



Chapter 5. Operations in Northern Norway 87 

The Siege of Narvik 87 

The Advance of the 2d Mountain Division Toward Narvik. 95 

Defeat and Victory 99 

Operation Juno 104 

6. The Campaign in Norway — Summary 109 


Chapter 7. Plans and Preparations H3 

The Change of Course in German-Finnish Relations 113 

Planning for Combined Operations 121 

The Barbarossa Directive (The Strategic Plan) 121 

The Army of Norway Staff Study Silberfuchs 124 

The Army Operation Order 125 

The Revised Army Operation Order . . . . 1 27 

The Army of Norway Operation Orders 128 

The German-Finnish Conversations, May-June 1941 132 

8. Operation SILBERFUCHS (I) 137 

Concentration of Forces ^ 137 

Plantinfuchs (Operations of Mountain Corps Norway) ... 140 

To the Litsa River 141 

Stalemate on the Litsa 144 

The Last Attempt 1 48 

Summary 154 

9. Operation SILBERFUCHS (II) 157 

Polarfuchs (Operations of XXXVI Corps and Finnish 

III Corps) 157 

Salla 158 

Stalemate at Kayrala 163 

Finnish III Corps Operations in July and August 1941 . 167 

Encirclement at Kayrala-Mikkola . 170 

To the Ver man Line 172 

Finnish III Corps Final Operations 179 

The Army of Lapland 183 

Silberfuchs in Retrospect 184 

10. Finland's War 188 

Operations in 1941 188 

Ladoga-Karelia. 190 

The Karelian Isthmus 192 

Eastern Karelia 195 

Cobelligerents and Brothers-in-Arms 203 

A Thrust to Belomorsk 208 



Chapter 1 1 . The Northern Theater in 1 942 213 

Norway 213 

Falkenhorst Returns to Norway 21 3 

The Civil Administration 219 

Operations in Finland 221 

The Soviet Spring Offensive 223 

Abortive Plans 229 

Operations Against the Arctic Convoys 235 

1 2. In the Backwater of War. 242 

The Stagnant Front 242 

Norway, 1943 252 

The Problem of a Defensive Strategy for Scandinavia. . 252 
Internal Affairs and the Situation at the End of the 

Year 264 

The Arctic Convoys 267 

13. Finland Leaves the War 272 

The Stagnant Front, January to June 1944 272 

Birke and Tanne 276 

The Soviet Summer Offensive 278 

The Attack 278 

Political Developments and German Aid 282 

The Last Phase 284 

Armistice 287 

1 4. The Undefeated Army 292 

Tanne and Birke 292 

Nordlicht 300 

Norway and Surrender 310 

1 5. Conclusion 315 

Appendix A. Rank Designations of German and Finnish 

General and Flag Officers 318 

B. Chronology of Events 319 

C. List of Major Participants 325 

Bibliographical Note 330 

Glossary... 331 

Code Names 333 




1. The Occupation of Narvik, 9 April 1940 47 

2. The Landings in Norway, 9 April 1940 50 

3. The Occupation of Denmark, 9-10 April 1940 61 

4. Operations in Southern and Central Norway, 9 April-2 May 1940 67 

5. The Zone of Operations of Group Trondheim, 9 April-4 May 1940 ....... 79 

6. The Bergen-Stavanger-Kristiansand Zone of Operations, 9 April-1 May 

1940 83 

7. The Situation at Narvik, 7 May 1940 89 

8. The Advance of 2d Mountain Division Toward Narvik, 5 May-13 June 

1940 96 

9. The Situation at Narvik, 17 May and 6 June 1940 100 

10. The First Attack Across the Litsa, 1 June-6 July 1941 facing 143 

11. The Second Attack Across the Litsa, 13-17 July 1941 facing 147 

12. The Last Attack Across the Litsa, 8-20 September 1941 facing 151 

13. Salla and the First Attack on Kayrala, 1-30 July 1941 161 

14. Operations of Group F, Ukhta, July-November 1941 facing 169 

15. Group J and SS-"Nord," Loukhi, June-November 1941 facing 171 

16. Encirclement at Kayrala and the Advance to the Verman Line, 19 August- 

15 September 1941 173 

17. Finnish Operations, June-December 1941 .facing 191 

18. Soviet Offensive in the Kesten'ga-Loukhi Sector, 24 ApriI-23 May 

1942 facing 225 

19. The Soviet Offensive on the Litsa, 27 April-1 4 May 1942 facing 227 

20. Study for an Operation Against Sweden, 1943 259 

21. The Soviet Summer Offensive Against Finland, June-July 1944 facing 281 

22. The German Withdrawal from Finland, 6 September 1944-30 January 

1945 facing 297 

23. The Soviet Offensive Against XIX Mountain Corps, 7-28 October 1944. . . 305 


Photographs are from captured German files 

• Mountain Troops Boarding the Cruiser Hipper 42 

JU 52 Transports 52 

Bandsmen Emplaning for Oslo 58 

Improvised Armored Train 68 

Infantry Advancing North of Oslo 71 

Infantrymen Taking Cover 74 

German Troops Clearing Fallen Rocks 76 

Infantrymen Trudging up a Snow-Covered Slope 80 

Mark II Tank 85 

Waiting to Attack 98 

Commanding General, Army of Norway 135 

Tundra in the Pechenga- Litsa River Area 143 

Engineer Using Jackhammer 151 

Mountain Troops Picking Their Way through the Forest 160 

Half-Tracked Motorcycles Pulling Antitank Guns 165 

Mortorcycle Stuck in the Thick Mud 175 

German Submarine in a Northern Fiord 178 

Finnish Lotta on Aircraft Spotting Duty 189 

Finnish Engineers Using Bangalore Torpedo 195 



The President of Finland, Risto Ryti 197 

German Railway Gun 215 

Winter Position on the Verman Line 222 

Snow-Covered Road in Northern Finland 224 

The New Marshal of Finland, Baron Carl Gustaf Mannerheim 229 

Troop Quarters on the Litsa Front 246 

Snow Tunnel on Reichsstrasse 50 265 

German Submarine on Arctic Patrol 269 

Reindeer Patrol 277 

German Ships at Nickel Ore Docks 301 

Camouflaged Supply Trail 303 

The Tirpitz in a Northern Fiord 311 




Chapter 1 

The Background of German Operations in Norway and 


The Scandinavian Dilemma 

Once, in the Dark Ages, the Norsemen had been the terror of the 
European coasts, and their search for plunder had carried them east to 
Byzantium and into the interior of Russia. In the eleventh century 
Cnut the Great of Denmark ruled England and Norway. Later, for a 
time, the Danes united all of Scandinavia under their crown. Under 
Gustavus Adolphus, a military genius who created the world's first 
modern army, Sweden became a Great Power and brought the entire 
eastern shore of the Baltic Sea under its control. 

By the nineteenth century those glories had dimmed and faded. 
Sweden lost Finland to the Russian Czar in 1809; and a few years 
later, as a consequence of its alliance with Napoleon, Denmark was 
forced to give up Norway which, until 1905, was joined to Sweden in 
an uneasy personal union under the Swedish king. With practical 
good sense, the Scandinavian countries then turned their energies to 
internal affairs and, except for a short war which Denmark lost to the 
German Confederation in 1866, resolutely avoided military entangle- 
ments. After the turn of the century they watched with growing con- 
cern as tension built up in Europe, and in December 1912 they formu- 
lated a set of rules for neutrality in an attempt to create a legal basis 
for the position they hoped to maintain in case of war. 

For Scandinavia the most fateful aspect of the approaching conflict 
was the rising enmity between Great Britain and Germany. In a war 
between the great sea power and the great land power the Scandinavian 
states would occupy the middle ground, no comfortable spot for neutrals. 
Whatever course they took promised to be hazardous and might end in 

In World War I it was still possible to strike a balance. The Nor- 
wegian and Swedish merchant fleets were pressed into Allied service. 


On the other hand, the largest share of Swedish industrial production 
and of the iron ore from the Kiruna-Gallivare fields went to Germany, 
and German pressure forced Denmark to mine sections of the Great 
Belt to protect the German naval base at Kiel. In August 1918 the 
British compelled Norway to complete the North Sea minefield by min- 
ing the waters near Karmoy. Although the cost had been high, the 
Scandinavian countries emerged from the war more than ever convinced 
that neutrality had. to be the major principle of their foreign policy. 

On the eve of World War II it appeared that the pattern of 1914-18 
might be repeated; but the Scandinavian position was only superficially 
the same: there had been important and dangerous changes. In Ger- 
many, the Nazi government was both daring and capricious, and mili- 
tarily it was not tied down on the Continent as the Imperial government 
had been. The Germans had not forgotten the so-called "hunger 
blockade" of World War I nor the part Norway had played in it and 
might be forced to play again. The German Navy's poor showing 
during World War I still rankled, and a favorite theory was that the 
war at sea would have gone differently had the German Fleet been able 
to operate from bases outside the land-locked North Sea, bases, for 
instance, on the west coast of Norway. Most significant of all, as long 
as the Lorraine mines stayed in French hands, the German war machine 
was absolutely dependent on Swedish iron ore. During the warmer 
months the ore could be shipped through the Swedish port of Lulea on 
the Baltic Sea; but in winter, when ice closed the Baltic ports, the ore 
had to be loaded at Narvik on the Norwegian Atlantic coast. To reach 
Narvik in wartime the German ore ships had to use the Leads, the 
protected channel between the Norwegian coast and its tight fringe of 
offshore islands. Also, German blockade runners could take cover in 
the Leads and break out into the open ocean anywhere along the Nor- 
wegian coast. These were facts which had not escaped the Allies, 
particularly the British who were not prepared to take the offensive 
anywhere except at sea and saw in economic warfare a chance to avoid 
a second bloodletting on the scale of World War I. 

On 1 September 1939 the German Foreign Ministry instructed its 
ministers in Norway, Sweden, and Finland to inform those governments 
"in clear, but decidedly friendly, terms" that Germany intended to 
respect their integrity — in so far as they maintained strict neutrality-— 
but would not tolerate breaches of that neutrality by third parties. It 
had made a similar declaration to the Danish Government a week 
earlier. During the next week Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell visited 
the Scandinavian and Finnish capitals where he repeated the German 
assurances and warned the governments against accepting any restric- 
tions imposed from the outside on their trade with Germany. 1 The 

1 U.S. Department of State, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945 
(Washington, 1956), Series D, Vol. VII, pp. 392, 396-98, 502, 522, 541. 


German statements to the Scandinavian governments were essentially 
the same as those made to the other European neutrals at the same time. 
The British Government had already considered a more positive ap- 
proach. A week before the outbreak of war the Foreign Office had 
proposed intimating to the Norwegian Government that a German 
attack on Norway would be regarded as tantamount to an attack on 
Great Britain. But the communication finally sent was watered down 
to a promise that the British would consider it in their interest to come 
to Norway's assistance if Norway incurred German reprisals by showing 
benevolence toward the Allies in the matter of the ore traffic. 2 

A Siege of Britain 

In the third week of September 1939 the German conquest of Poland 
was nearly completed. The Russians were marching in from the east, 
and the remnants of the Polish Army were being wiped out at Warsaw, 
Modlin, and L'vov. Great Britain and France had declared war, but 
they displayed no inclination to take the offensive. Contrary to the 
widely held belief that Hitler was following a detailed war plan, the 
Germans themselves had no clear idea of what to do next. During a 
conference with Hitler on 23 September, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder, 
Commander in Chief, Navy, raised the question of measures to be 
adopted "in case" the war against Great Britain and France had to be 
fought to the finish. The possibility of unrestricted submarine warfare, 
to be proclaimed as "a siege of Britain," came under consideration ; but 
Hitler had not yet made up his mind. He still hoped "to drive a wedge" 
between Great Britain and France. 3 

On 27 September, the day Warsaw and Modlin surrendered, Hitler 
called the commanders in chief of the three services to the Reich Chan- 
cellery and informed them that he intended to open an offensive in the 
west as soon as possible, certainly before the end of the year. 4 The an- 
nouncement, bombshell though it was, was received with some skepti- 
cism. It was not the first time Hitler had given too free a rein to his 
imagination; moreover, the prospects of peace with the Allies appeared 
good, and Hitler had committed himself to making an offer (which he 
did in the Reichstag speech of 6 October) . Within two days the Army 
had mustered a half dozen compelling arguments against a campaign 
in the west, which it regarded as technically impossible before the turn 
of the year and unpromising, if not dangerous, at any time in the fore- 
seeable future. 6 The following weeks of doubt and uncertainty brought 

2 J. R. M. Butler, Grand Strategy (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1957), Vol. 
II, p. 93. . 

3 Fuehrer Conferences on Matters Dealing With the German Navy (Washington, 
1947) (hereafter cited as Fuehrer Conferences) , 1939, p. 9. 

4 Helmuth Greiner, Die Feldzuege gegen die Westmaechte und im Norden, pp. 
1-10. MS # C-065d. OCMH. 

6 Franz Haider, Kriegstagebuch des Generalobersten Franz Haider (hereafter cited 
as Haider Diary), Vol. II, p. 16. War Diary, German Naval Staff, Operations 
Division, Part A (Washington, 1948) (hereafter cited as Naval War Diary), Vol. 
2, p. 40. 


a flurry of estimates, proposals, and counterproposals from the Armed 
Forces High Command {Oberkommando der Wehrmacht — OKW) 
and the service commands — Army High Command {Oberkommando 
des Heeres — OKH), Navy High Command {Oberkommando der 
Kriegsmarine — OKM), and Air Force High Command {Oberkom- 
mando der Luftwaffe — OKL). 6 

In a Naval Staff Conference on 2 October Raeder presented a list 
of three possibilities for future operations which he had received from 
the Chief, OKW: 

1 . Attempt a decision by operations on land in the west. Concentrate 
the entire armament industry and war economy on the Army and Air 

2. Attempt a decision by the "siege of Britain." Concentrate efforts 
on the most speedy and large-scale expansion of the submarine arm 
and of the aircraft types required for warfare against Britain. On land : 
defense in the west. 

3. Defense at sea and on land; delaying tactics. 7 

As Chief, Naval Staff, Raeder expressed the belief that the most effective 
means to accomplish the defeat of the main enemy, Great Britain, was 
the "siege of Britain," and he ordered supporting considerations drawn 

Since, according to the generals, the future of land operations was 
doubtful, it looked as if the "siege of Britain" might move into the fore- 
front of German strategy. While Raeder obviously welcomed such a 
development, he had to recognize that the Navy was far from ready to 
carry out the greatly expanded mission that would fall to it. In the 
first place, the Submarine Command had only 29 Atlantic-type U- 
boats. 9 Secondly, the Navy was not in a favorable position to assume 
the offensive outside the North Sea. It had concluded, in the "Battle 
Instructions" of May 1939, that the English Channel would be com- 
pletely blocked and that the British would spare no pains to close the 
northern route out of the North Sea, between the Shetland Islands and 
Norway. 10 Resolution of the first problem, that of the submarines, was 

• The German abbreviations OKW, OKH, OKM, and OKL will be used through- 
out this study. The commanders in chief were Generaloberst Walter von Brauchitsch, 
Army; Grossadmiral Erich Raeder, Navy; and Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Goer- 
ing, Air Force. The OKW, headed by the Chief, OKW, Generaloberst Wilhelm 
Keitel, was not organized as a true armed forces command but functioned mainly 
as a coordinating agency and personal military staff for Hitler, who in February 
1938 had assumed command of the German Armed Forces as Supreme Commander 
(Oberste Befehlshaber) . The most important of the several sections in the OKW 
was the Armed Forces Operations Staff (W ehrmachtfuehrungsstab) under General- 
major Alfred Jodl, who in the course of the war became Hitler's closest military 

''Naval War Diary, Vol. 2, p. 9. 

e Raeder was both Commander in Chief, Navy, and Chief, Naval Staff. 
9 Naval War Diary, Vol. 2, p. 19. 

"Battle Instructions for the Navy (Edition of May 1939), in Fuehrer Directives 
and Other Top-Level Directives of the German Armed Forces, 1939—1941 (Wash- 
ington, 1948), p. 25. 


a matter of time; the second, how to achieve freedom of action outside 
the North Sea, Raeder turned to on 3 October. He told the Naval 
Staff that he believed it necessary to acquaint the Fuehrer with the con- 
siderations in extending the Navy's operational bases to the north. He 
asked the staff to determine whether German and Soviet diplomatic 
pressure could be used to acquire bases in Norway, or, if that were not 
possible, whether the bases could be taken by military force. The in- 
vestigation was to include a selection of places in Norway which could 
be used as bases; estimates of the amount of construction needed; and 
an analysis of how the bases could be defended. 11 

Raeder was thinking in terms of two bases, one at Narvik and the 
other at Trondheim. Admiral Rolf Carls, Commanding Admiral, 
Baltic Sea Station, thought a base at Narvik was not necessary, apparently 
because Germany already had the use of the Soviet arctic port of 
Murmansk. 12 (In mid-October 1939 Germany acquired a separate 
base, Base North, in Zapadnaya Litsa Bay on the Murman Coast.) 
Konteradmiral Karl Doenitz, Commanding Admiral, Submarines, con- 
sidered both Narvik and Trondheim suitable as submarine bases and 
recommended that Trondheim be the main base and Narvik an 
auxiliary. 13 

On 5 October the Chief of Staff, Naval Staff, Vizeadmiral Otto 
Schniewind conferred with the Chief of Staff, Army, General der Artil- 
lerie Franz Haider on the question whether the proposed bases could be 
secured and defended. Schniewind pointed out that, if the war against 
Great Britain had to be fought to the finish, the Navy and Air Force 
would have to take responsibility for the main effort. He asked, first, 
whether it would be possible for the Army by operations in the direction 
of the Channel-Normandy-Brittany to create a broader base for sub- 
marine operations. This, Haider replied, was beyond the power of the 
Army. Asked whether the Army could take the areas in central and 
northern Norway which had been mentioned as sites for bases, Haider 
again gave a negative answer, citing the probable opposition of both 
Norway and Sweden, difficult terrain, bad communications, and long 
supply lines. He believed a thrust in the west ( where he doubted that the 
coast could be reached at all) or in Norway would require concentration 
of the entire war industry on Army requirements and bring the sub- 
marine program to a halt. An extension of the base, in the direction of 
Jutland as far as Skagen, could be promised, he thought, but he doubted 

"Trials of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal 
(Nuremberg, 1947) (hereafter cited as International Military Tribunal), Doc. 122-C. 

12 In a memorandum of 30 January 1944 Raeder stated that it was Carls who first 
called the importance of bases on the Norwegian coast to his attention. After the 
war, Raeder testified that Carls had also expressed concern over a British occupation 
of Norway. The naval records contain no evidence to support either of these 
contentions. International Military Tribunal, Vol. XIV, p. 99, and Doc. 066-C. 

13 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 005-C. 


whether the advantages to the Navy would outweigh the political and 
economic disadvantages of such an undertaking. 14 

In its own appraisal, set down on 9 October, the Naval Staff was far 
from enthusiastic. A base on the Norwegian coast, it conceded, would 
offer great advantages for the fleet which Germany planned to have 
after 1945; but until then only the submarines could use it profitably. 
Although a base, Trondheim, for instance, would undeniably be useful 
for submarine warfare, the length and vulnerability of its lines of com- 
munication to Germany would greatly reduce its value. Finally, to 
acquire such a base by a military operation would be difficult, and, 
even if political pressure were enough, serious political disadvantages, 
among them loss of the protection which Norwegian neutrality gave 
German shipping, would have to be taken into account. 15 

On the day the Naval Staff completed its study Hitler put the finishing 
touches on a lengthy political and military analysis in which he reaf- 
firmed his intention to launch an offensive in the west. A major ob- 
jective was to be to secure bases in Holland, Belgium, and — if possible — 
on the French coast from which the Navy and Air Force could operate 
against the British Isles. 16 The next day (10 October) Raeder ex- 
plained to Hitler that the conquest of the Belgian coast ( at the time even 
Hitler believed this would be the limit of the advance) would be of no 
advantage for submarine warfare and then, mentioning Trondheim as 
a possibility, pointed out the advantages of bases on the Norwegian 
coast. Hitler replied that bases close to Britain were essential for the 
Air Force but agreed to take the question of Norway under considera- 
tion. 17 

Fuehrer Directive No. 6, issued on 9 October, placed the German 
main effort on land. In it Hitler called for an Army offensive on the 
northern flank of the Western Front, with the objectives of smashing 
large elements of the French and Allied armies and taking as much ter- 
ritory as possible in Holland, Belgium, and northern France to create 
favorable conditions for air and sea warfare against Great Britain and 
for defense of the Ruhr. The Air Force would support the Army opera- 
tions, and the Navy would "make every effort to support the Army and 
Air Force directly or indirectly." 18 ' Of the three services, the Navy was 
given by far the least important mission. Its direct contribution was to 
consist of small operations, such as seizure of the West Frisian Islands; 
and it would give indirect support by employing the submarines and 

14 Naval War Diary, Vol. 2, p. 39. 

15 OKM, SKL, Ueberlegungen zu Frage der Stuetzpunktgewinnung fuer die 
Nordsee-Kriegfuehrung, 9.10.39. 

18 Denkschrift und Richtlinien ueber die Fuehrung des Krieges im Westen, 
9.10.39, in OKM, Weisungen OKW {Fuehrer) . 

17 Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, pp. 13ff. 

18 Der Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW Nr. 172/39, WFA/L, Weisung 
Nr. 6 fuer die Kampffuehrung, 9.10.39, in OKM, Weisungen OKW (Fuehrer). ' 


pocket battleships in warfare against Allied merchant shipping "until 
such time as the siege of Britain can be carried out." 19 

The Hitler-Quisling Talks, December 1939 

After 10 October Hitler was preoccupied with his plans for the 
offensive in the west. He showed no further interest in the question 
of Norwegian bases; and Raeder for the time being did not return to 
it; but as the Navy prepared to intensify the war against merchant 
shipping its attention was increasingly drawn toward northern Europe 
and Norway in particular. If there was one area where Germany 
could hope to throttle British trade completely it was the Baltic Sea. 
The Navy had been active there since the outbreak of war but with 
less success than had been expected. One source of acute concern was 
the firm, almost hostile, attitude of Sweden which in October and 
November culminated in a series of running disputes, mostly over 
alleged Swedish attempts to stretch their neutral rights almost to the 
point of provocation. Another was the continuing traffic across Sweden 
to the Norwegian Atlantic ports of goods from the Baltic countries and 
Finland. The Navy considered it essential to stop that trade, which 
consisted mainly of lumber to be used as pit props in British coal mines. 
At the end of October Raeder ordered that submarines be stationed 
off the north coast of Norway, but the chances of their having any 
effect were small since it was impossible to determine where ships bound 
for Britain would depart from the Leads. 20 

On 29 November Fuehrer Directive No. 9 brought the "siege of 
Britain" to the fore again. Declaring that the most effective way to 
accomplish the defeat of Great Britain was by paralyzing its economy, 
Hitler announced that, after the French and British armies had been 
annihilated in the field and parts of the Channel coast occupied, the 
German main effort would shift to naval and air warfare against the 
British economy. 21 Discussing the projected economic warfare at a 
Fuehrer conference on 8 December, Raeder attempted once more to 
turn Hitler's attention toward Norway. He pointed out that transport 
via Sweden and Norway through Trondheim to Britain was very active 
and difficult to control. It was important, he declared, to occupy 
Norway; the northern countries could then be forced to route their 
exports to Germany. 22 

In December Raeder acquired support from a new direction when 
he came into contact with Vidkun Quisling, leader of the Norwegian 
National Union Party (Nasjonal Samling) — a small and not very in- 

19 Naval War Diary, Vol. 2, p. 70. 

so Naval War Diary, Vols. 2 and 3 passim. 

^Der Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW/WFA Nr. 215/39, Weisung 
Nr. 9, Richtlinien fuer die Kriegfuehrung gegen die feindliche Wirtschaft, 29.11.39, 
mOKM, Weisungen OKW {Fuehrer). 

23 Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 46. 


fluential copy of the German Nazi Party. Quisling, who had served 
as Norwegian Minister of War in the early 1930's, claimed to have well- 
placed contacts in the Norwegian Government and Army. He was con- 
vinced that the Soviet Union was the greatest menace to Europe, and 
before the era of the Nazi-Soviet Pact he had advocated a German- 
Scandinavian-British bloc to stand off the Bolshevik threat. 23 Quisling's 
patron in Germany was Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, head of the For- 
eign Political Office of the Nazi Party. On a visit to Berlin in June 1939, 
Quisling, talking to Rosenberg, had pictured Norway as split politically 
between the bourgeois parties — completely under the influence of Great 
Britain — and the Labor Party — engaged in transforming the country into 
a Soviet Socialist Republic. He had emphasized the strategic importance 
of Norway in a war between Germany and Great Britain and the 
advantages that would accrue to the power gaining control of the 
Norwegian coast. 24 On the assumption that the Norwegian question 
would be of great significance for air operations, Rosenberg had secured 
an interview for Quisling in the Air Ministry. Subsequently, in 
August 1939, a group of Quisling's followers had been given a short 
training course by the Rosenberg organization. In September the Air 
Ministry had indicated willingness to take over financial support of 
Quisling, but the decision had been postponed during the Polish Cam- 
paign. Further urging by Rosenberg had brought no results. 25 

In December Quisling made a second trip to Berlin, where, at first, 
he found little encouragement. Rosenberg, who reported Quisling's 
presence to Hider and briefly outlined his proposal to pave the way for 
a German occupation by establishing a pro-German government in 
Norway, was content with an explanation that "naturally" Hitler could 
not receive Quisling and a halfhearted promise to look into the matter 
further. 26 At the Foreign Ministry, Quisling's known antipathy for the 
Soviet Union gained him a cold reception. The officials he talked to 
there wanted only to bundle him off to Norway again as quickly as they 
could. But, on 1 1 December, Wiljam Hagelin, a Norwegian business- 
man who acted as Quisling's liaison man in Germany, introduced him 
to Raeder, who proved to be an interested listener. Leaving Russia 
somewhat in the background, Quisling chose as his, theme the pro-British 
bias of the Norwegian Government and the danger of a British occu- 
pation. The Government, he claimed, had secretly agreed not to 
oppose a British invasion if Norway became involved in war with one 

23 U.S. Department of State. Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918—1945 
(Washington, 1954), Series D, Vol. VIII, p. 56. 

24 Rosenberg, Die politische Vorbereitung der Norwegen-Aktion, 15 Juni 1940. 
EAP 250-d— 18-42/2. Reichsamtsleiter Scheidt, Aktenvermerk fuer Reichsleiter 
Rosenberg. Betr: Besuch des ehem. Kriegsministers, Staatsrat Quisling, 14 Juni 
1939. EAP 250-d-l 8-42/4. 

25 Rosenberg, Die politische Vorbereitung der Norwegen Aktion, 15 Juni 1940. 
EAP 250-d-l 8-42/2. 

28 Hans-Guenther Seraphim, Das politische Tagebuch Alfred Rosenbergs aus den 
Jahren 1934/35 und 1939/40 (Goettingen: Musterschmidt-Verlag, 1956), p. 91. 


of the other Great Powers. The National Union. Party, he said, wanted 
to forestall a British move by placing the necessary bases at the disposal 
of the German armed forces. In the coastal areas men in important 
positions had already been bought for that purpose, but the months of 
unproductive negotiations with Rosenberg demonstrated that a change 
in the German attitude was necessary. 27 

What Quisling had to say fitted in neatly with a line of thought 
Raeder had recently been following. On 25 November he had told 
the Naval Staff that he saw a danger that, in the event of a German 
invasion of Holland, the British might make a surprise landing on the 
Norwegian coast and take possession of a base there. He had requested 
that further thought be given to the matter. 28 

Reporting to Hitler on 1 2 December, Raeder gave an account of his 
meeting with Quisling and added a summary of his own and the Naval 
Staff's thinking on the subject of a British or German occupation of 
Norway. To permit the British to establish themselves in Norway, he 
said, would be intolerable because Sweden would then fall entirely 
under British influence, the war would be carried to the Baltic, and 
German naval warfare would be completely disrupted in the Atlantic 
and the North Sea. On the other hand, a German occupation of bases 
in Norway would provoke strong British countermeasures aimed at 
interdicting the transport of ore from Narvik. That eventually, Raeder 
admitted, would remain a weak spot; but he recommended that, if 
Hitler's impression of Quisling was favorable, the OKW be given per- 
mission to use him as a collaborator in preparing plans for an occupation 
of Norway either by peaceful means — that is, by German troops being 
called in — or by force. 29 

During the next week Hitler saw Quisling twice. After the first meet- 
ing, on 14 December, he instructed the OKW to "investigate how one 
can take possession of Norway." 30 At the second interview, on 18 
December, as he had at the first, Hitler expressed a personal desire to 
preserve Norway's neutrality. But, he stated, if the enemy prepared 
to extend the war, he would be obliged to take countermeasures. He 
promised financial support for Quisling's party and gave control of 
political arrangements to Rosenberg. A special staff in the OKW was 
to handle military matters. 31 

27 Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 56. 

28 Naval War Diary, Vol. 3, p. 155. 

29 Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 54. 

30 The date, 13 December, given in the Jodl Diary, is apparently in error. In the 
Akten Raeder, ObdM, Heft I at the bottom of a 13 December letter from Rosenberg, 
explaining that he could not take Quisling to see Hitler that day, Raeder noted, 
"14.XII.39. . . . Empfang von Q. und H. durch F. Raeder 14.XII.39." Tagebuch 
General Jodl ( WFA ) , International Military Tribunal, Docs, 1809-PS and 1811-PS 
(unpublished documents in National Archives) (hereafter cited as Jodl Diary), 
13 Dec 39. 

81 Rosenberg, Die politische Vorbereitung der Norwegen Aktion, 15 Juni 1940. 
EAP 250-d-18-42/2. 


Hitler's interest in Norway was sudden and, as was soon shown, still 
superficial, but events were conspiring to draw him closer to Raeder's 
point of view. In October Hitler had said that, barring completely 
unforeseen developments, the neutrality of the northern states could be 
assumed for the future. 32 When he addressed the generals, on 23 No- 
vember, his opinion had changed somewhat. He described Scandinavia 
as hostile to Germany because of Marxist influences "but neutral now." 33 
At the end of November the Soviet attack on Finland had injected a 
new and potentially dangerous element into the situation. The Soviet 
aggression aroused immediate sympathy for Finland among the Allies 
and in the Scandinavian countries, but Germany, bound by the Nazi- 
Soviet Pact in which Finland had been declared outside the German 
sphere of interest, was forced to resort to strict neutrality. As a result, 
anti-German sentiment in Scandinavia, which had been growing since 
the start of the war, rose to avalanche proportions. It was this plus 
the fear that the Russian advance into northern Europe might not stop 
with Finland that brought Quisling to Berlin in December. For 
Germany the most serious consideration was that the Allies might use 
the Russo-Finnish conflict as an excuse to establish bases in Norway. 34 

The First Planning Phase 

Studie Nord 

In his order to the OKW on 14 December, Hitler stipulated that the 
planning for Norway was to be kept within a very limited circle. That 
same day the Chief of Staff, Army, learned that a preventive operation 
in Norway which would also involve Denmark was being considered 
and ordered Army Intelligence to supply maps and information on the 
two countries. 35 In the OKW, Generalmajor Alfred Jodl, Chief of the 
Operations Staff, took the preliminary work in hand. Entries in the 
Jodl Diary indicate that he discussed the question of Norway with the 
Chief of Staff, Air Force, presumably on the assumption that the Air 
Force role would be predominant in any operation which might result. 
On 19 December he reported to Hitler, who ordered that control of the 
planning be kept in the hands of the OKW. The next day Jodl and 
Generaloberst Wilhelm Keitel, Chief, OKW, discussed the possibilities 
of reconnaissance in Norway and considered assigning missions to the 
air attaches, the Abwehr (OKW Intelligence), and the Reconnaissance 
Squadron "Rowel," a special purpose air unit that was supposed to be 
able to escape detection from the ground by flying at extremely high alti- 

32 Denkschrift und Richtlinien ueber die Fuehrung des Krieges im We'sten, 
9.10.39, in OKM, Weisungen OKW {Fuehrer). 
38 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 789— PS. 

34 Walther Hubatsch, Die deutsche Besetzung von Daenemark und Norwegen 1940 
(Goettingen: Musterschmidt-Verlag, 1952), pp. 11-13. Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, 
p. 56. Naval War Diary, Vol. 4, p. 17. 

35 Jodl Diary, 13 Dec. 39. Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 5. 


tudes. 36 Toward the end of the month, under the title Studie Nord, 
the Operations Staff, OKW, completed a rough summary of the main 
military and political issues relating to Norway. This Hitler ordered 
held in the OKW for the time being. 37 

In the meantime the Rosenberg organization had also gone to work. 
Its first task was to overcome the objections of the Foreign Ministry, 
which held the purse strings, and arrange financial backing for Quis- 
ling. The Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Political Office of the 
Nazi Party were rivals of long standing. The case of Quisling and 
Norway was particularly touchy since it might involve a danger to 
Soviet-German friendship, which Foreign Minister Joachim von Rib- 
bentrop regarded as his crowning achievement. 38 Eventually, after 
several weeks of negotiations, Rosenberg managed to secure an initial 
subvention of 200,000 gold marks to be paid out to Quisling in install- 
ments. It was planned also to supply him with quantities of readily con- 
vertible commodities, such as sugar and coal. 

While he was in Berlin, Quisling had presented a plan for bringing 
the Germans into Norway by so-called "political" means. He pro- 
posed to send a detachment of picked men from among his followers 
to Germany for intensive military training. Later they would be at- 
tached as interpreters and guides to a special German force which would 
be transported to Oslo in coal ships. In the Norwegian capital, after 
the Germans and Quisling-men had captured the leading members of 
the government and taken possession of the administrative offices, Quis- 
ling would assume control and issue an official call for German troops. 39 

After Quisling returned to Oslo, Rosenberg detailed Reichsamtsleiter 
Hans-Wilhelm Scheidt to act as go-between. In Oslo Scheidt found 
that the diplomats at the German Legation placed very little stock in 
the talk of a British invasion and wanted to steer clear of Quisling to 
avoid compromising themselves. The naval attache, on the other hand, 
offered his assistance and soon became Scheldt's chief collaborator. 
From the outset the Germans thought Quisling's proposed coup involved 
too many chances for slip-ups; they preferred to see it mature slowly 
and diverted Quisling's efforts toward the gathering of political and 
military information. Most of the money from Germany went for 
propaganda and to support the National Union Party's weekly news- 
paper. Quisling's reports were sent to Rosenberg who passed them 
on to Hitler. Raeder kept in contact through the naval attache; but 
the OKW remained indifferent and apparently neither asked Quisling's 
advice nor paid much attention to that which he volunteered. 40 

36 Jodl Diary, 18-20 Dec. 39. 
31 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 13. 

38 Rosenberg, Die politische Vorbereitung der Norwegen Aktion, 15 Juni 1940 
(Anlage 6, Schickedantz, Aktennotiz Norwegen, 22.12.39). EAP 250-d-18-42/2. 

38 Seraphim, op. cit. pp. 162 ff. Rosenberg, Die politische Vorbereitung der Nor- 
wegen Aktion, 15 Juni 1940. EAP 2 50-d- 18-42/2. 

40 Ibid. 


At the turn of the year everything about the Norwegian project was 
still vague. Reporting to Hitler, on 30 December, Raeder again de- 
clared that Norway must not be allowed to fall into British hands. He 
saw a danger that British volunteers "in disguise" might carry out a 
"cold" occupation and warned that it was necessary to be ready. 41 That 
his feeling of urgency was not shared in other quarters was demonstrated 
two days later when Haider and Keitel agreed that it was in Germany's 
interest to keep Norway neutral and that a change in the German 
attitude would depend on whether or not Great Britain actually threat- 
ened the neutrality of Norway. 42 On the other hand, Hitler's interest 
was increasing, but slowly, stimulated by rumors and newspaper talk 
of an Allied intervention in Finland. It is also possible that he had 
some knowledge of the British attempt on 6 January 1940 to secure 
an agreement permitting British naval forces to operate in Norwegian 
territorial waters. On 10 January, after a delay of almost two weeks, 
he released the OKW Studie Nord to the service high commands. 

The Naval Staff, the only one of the service staffs at that time showing 
any inclination to concern itself with Norway, reviewed Studie Nord 
in a meeting on 13 January 1940. As summarized in the Naval Staff 
minutes, Studie Nord proceeded from the premise that Germany could 
not tolerate British control of the Norwegian area and that only a Ger- 
man occupation which would forestall the British could prevent such a 
development. Because of the Russo-Finnish war, according to the 
OKW, anti-German opinion was on the increase in Scandinavia, work- 
ing to the benefit of Great Britain, and Norwegian resistance to a British 
invasion was hardly to be expected. The OKW believed that the 
British might use the German offensive in the west as an excuse to occupy 
Norway. Studie Nord directed that a special staff, headed by an Air 
Force general, be created to devise a plan of operations. The Navy 
was to supply the chief of staff, and the Army the operations officer. 

During the review of Studie Nord the Naval Staff, with Raeder pres- 
ent, argued strongly against an operation in Norway. It did not believe 
a British invasion of Norway was imminent, and it considered a German 
occupation in the absence of any previous British action as strategically 
and economically dangerous. At the end, Raeder agreed that to pre- 
serve the status quo was the best solution, but he ordered the Naval 
Staff to initiate additional planning because the course of the war could 
not be predicted and it was necessary, on principle, to include the 
occupation of Norway in the Navy's preparations. 43 

Between 14 and 19 January the Naval Staff worked out an expansion 
of Studie Nord. The mission it foresaw for the Navy was to support 
and, where necessary, execute troop landings at the major Norwegian 
ports from Oslo to Tromso. Surprise was regarded as absolutely essen- 

11 Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 62. 

42 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 13. 

43 Naval War Dairy, Vol. 5, pp. 62-64. 


tial to the success of the operation. If surprise was achieved, no serious 
opposition was anticipated during the naval phase of the operation, 
at least not on the outbound trip. The Naval Staff regarded the Nor- 
wegian warships as "no threat, even to single German light units" ; the 
only British ships which it thought needed to be taken into account 
were those that happened to be on patrol off Norway, possibly one or 
two cruisers. The Norwegian coastal fortifications, not manned in 
peacetime, were not expected to offer much opposition, but it was 
deemed necessary to capture them intact at the earliest possible moment 
in order to be able to fight off British counterattacks. 

The assault force, the Naval Staff calculated, could consist of either 
the 22d Infantry Division (airborne) or a mountain division. Trans- 
portation would be provided by the 7th Air Division (the airborne and 
parachute troop command) and the Navy. The first possibility con- 
sidered was to move the troops that did not go by air on merchant ships 
disguised as ore transports. If successful, this method would guarantee 
surprise, but it had disadvantages: the large number of ships required 
could not be assembled without attracting attention ; they were slow and 
could not be protected; and it would be difficult to keep the troops con- 
cealed, particularly since the ships would have to pass through the Leads 
with Norwegian pilots aboard. A second possibility, sending the troops 
on warships, avoided all of these disadvantages but limited the number 
of troops and severely restricted the amounts of supplies and equipment 
that could be transported. The Naval Staff recommended a combina- 
tion of the two, the first wave of troops moving by warship and a second 
wave of troops, supplies, and equipment following in merchant steamers. 

The Naval Staff assumed that Denmark, Sweden, and the Soviet 
Union would be concerned in the operation in one way or another. It 
recommended acquisition of bases in Denmark, at the northern tip of 
Jutland in particular, as a means of approaching the Shetlands-Nor- 
way passage and of facilitating naval and air control of the Skagerrak. 
Possible objections from the Soviet Union were to be warded off by 
assurances to be given "without regard for actual intentions" that the 
northern Norwegian ports would be occupied only for the duration of 
the war. In the case of Sweden, it was "to be made absolutely clear 
that pro-German neutrality and complete fulfillment of all delivery 
obligations [of goods] is the sole road to preservation of its 
independence." 44 

The Krancke Staff 

During the first weeks of January 1940 Hitler's attention was still 
concentrated entirely on the plan for the offensive in the west which he 
hoped to put into execution before the end of the month. But because 
the weather predictions became increasingly less favorable after the 

44 OEM, SKL, I Op., 73/40, Ueberlegungen Studie Nord, 19.1.40. 


middle of the month, Hitler, on 20 January, announced that the opera- 
tion could probably not begin before March. It then became necessary 
to look at the Scandinavian situation in a new light, since the postpone- 
ment of the German offensive might give the Allies time "to intervene in 
the north. 

On 23 January Hitler ordered Studie Nord recalled. The creation 
of a working staff in the OKL was to be canceled, and all further work 
was to be done in the OKW. In that order he killed two birds with one 
stone, placing the planning for an operation in Norway on a somewhat 
firmer basis and, at the same time, giving an example of the more stringent 
security procedures he had demanded after an incident earlier in the 
month which had resulted in some of the plans for the invasion in the 
west falling into Allied hands when an Air Force major made a forced 
landing on Belgian territory. On the 27th, in a letter to the com- 
manders in chief of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Keitel stated that 
henceforth work on Studie Nord would be carried out under Hitler's 
direct personal guidance and in closest conjunction with the over-all 
direction of the war. Keitel would take over supervision of the plan- 
ning, and a working staff, which would provide a nucleus for the opera- 
tions staff, would be formed in the OKW. Each of the services was to 
provide an officer suitable for operations work, who also, if possible, had 
training in organization and supply. The operation was assigned the 
code name Weseruebung. 45 

The staff for Weseruebung assembled on 5 February, and was in- 
stalled as a special section of the National Defense Branch, Operations 
Staff, OKW. Its senior officer was Captain Theodor Krancke, Com- 
manding Officer of the cruiser Scheer. For the first time direct control of 
operational planning was taken out of the hands of the service com- 
mands and vested in Hitler's personal staff, the OKW. This move, 
although justified by the character of the operation being planned, con- 
stituted a downgrading of the service commanders in chief and their 
staffs. It accounts, at least in part, for the violent Army and Air 
Force reactions several weeks later. 

Although it was widely assumed later — after the failure of Allied coun- 
teroperations in Norway — that the Germans had laid their plans and 
had begun gathering intelligence well in advance, probably even before 
the outbreak of war, such was not the case. The Krancke staff began its 
work with very modest resources. German military experience afforded 
no precedent for the sort of operation contemplated, and the preliminary 
work of the OKW and Naval Staff provided little more than tentative 
points of departure for the operational planning. A certain amount 
of intelligence information on the Norwegian Army and military installa- 
tions was available, which, while it was useful and later proved accurate, 

45 Jodl Diary, 23 Jan 40. Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 28. International Military 
Tribunal, Doc. 063-C. 


was not of decisive importance. For maps and general background 
information it was often necessary at first to rely on hydrographic charts, 
travel guides, tourist brochures, and other similar sources. The limita- 
tion of personnel imposed by the necessity for preserving secrecy was a 
further handicap. The Krancke staff in the approximately three weeks 
of its existence, nevertheless, produced a workable operations plan. 

The Krancke Plan for the first time focused clearly on the technical 
and tactical aspects of the projected operation. As the Naval Staff 
had earlier, the Krancke staff based its plan on a division of Norway 
into six strategically important areas: 

1 . The region around Oslo Fiord. 

2. The narrow coastal strip of southern Norway from Langesund to 


3. Bergen and its environs. 

4. The Trondheim region. 

5. Narvik. 

6. Tromso and Finnmark. 

To control those fairly small areas, which contained most of Norway's 
population, industry, and trade, was, in effect, to control the entire 
country. For that reason the Krancke staff proposed to execute simul- 
taneous landings at Oslo, Kristiansand, Arendal, Stavanger, Bergen, 
Trondheim, and Narvik. Tromso and Finnmark it regarded as being 
of no direct interest to Germany and significant only for the two air- 
fields located near Tromso. Capture of the seven ports was expected 
to entail a loss for the Norwegians of eight of their estimated sixteen 
regiments, nearly all of their artillery, and almost all of their airfields. 

The operation was to be executed by a corps composed of the 22d 
Infantry Division (airborne), the 11th Motorized Rifle Brigade, one 
mountain division, and six reinforced infantry regiments. The troops 
for the landings were to be transported by a fleet of fast warships and 
by the 7th Air Division, which would provide eight transport groups 
and approximately five battalions of parachute troops for the first wave. 
Planes of the 7th Air Division would bring in the second wave, consisting 
of the main elements of the 22d Infantry Division, in three days. The 
remaining troops, the third and fourth waves, would arrive by ship on 
about the fifth day. Under the Krancke Plan, with the exception of the 
troops for Narvik and Trondheim where distance precluded airborne 
operations, half the troops were to be transported by air and half by sea. 
The Air Force was also to provide bomber and fighter support. 

The Krancke staff believed that the occupation could be restricted 
to the seven main ports. It did not expect the Norwegian armed forces 
to show either the desire or the ability to offer effective resistance, and 
it thought that, after the landings, the German position could be con- 
solidated by diplomatic means. The Norwegian Government would be 
assured of "as much independence as possible" in internal affairs. Its 


armed forces, except for the troops on the Finnish border, would be 
reduced to cadre strength, and orders for mobilization would require 
the approval of the German commander. German troops would take 
over the fortresses and military supply depots. 

To provide security for the supply lines from Germany, the Krancke 
staff proposed using the threat of a military occupation of Jutland to 
extract permission from the Danish Government for use of airfields in 
northern Jutland. To induce Sweden and the Soviet Union to remain 
neutral, they were to be assured that the occupation would be terminated 
at the end of the war and that Germany guaranteed the former bound- 
aries of Norway. At a later date, the Krancke staff believed, it would be 
necessary to require from Sweden use of the Lulea-Narvik railroad for 
hauling supplies to Narvik. 46 

The Decision to Occupy Norway 

The Appointment of Falkenhorst 

In mid-February the Altmark Incident gave the first real sense of 
urgency to the preparations for Weseruebung. On 14 February the 
German tanker Altmark, with 300 captured British seamen from the 
commerce raider Graf Spee aboard, entered Norwegian territorial waters 
on its return trip to Germany. Despite strong misgivings the Norwegian 
Admiralty, which suspected the nature of the Altmark's "cargo," per- 
mitted the ship to proceed. On 16 February, when six British destroyers 
put in an appearance, the Altmark, escorted by two Norwegian torpedo 
boats, took refuge in Jossing Fiord near Egersund. Disregarding pro- 
tests from the Norwegian naval craft, the British destroyer Cossack 
entered the fiord and, sending a party aboard the Altmark, took the 
prisoners off after a brief skirmish. 

The deliberate action of the Cossack convinced Hitler that the British 
no longer intended to respect Norwegian neutrality, and on 19 February 
he demanded a speed-up in the planning for Weseruebung. On 
JodFs suggestion he decided to turn the operation over to a corps com- 
mander and his staff. The nomination fell to General der Infanterie 
Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, Commanding General, XXI Corps, who had 
acquired some experience in overseas operations during the German 
intervention in Finland in 1918. 47 Talking to Rosenberg the same day, 
Hitler decided that Quisling's plan for bringing his party to power in 
Norway should be dropped. The Quisling organization, he ordered, 
was to stand by for the eventuality that the British might force Germany 
to protect its routes to Norway. 48 

At noon on 21 February Falkenhorst reported to Hitler and was given 
the mission of planning and, if it were to be executed, commanding the 

^OKW, WFA, Abt. Ill, Weisung an Oberbefehlshaber "Weseruebung," 26.2.40. 

47 Jodl Diary, 19 Feb 40. Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, pp. 62, 64. 

48 Seraphim, op. cit., p. 102. 


operation against Norway. The plan would have two objectives: to 
forestall the British by occupying the most important ports and localities, 
in particular the ore port of Narvik; and to take such firm control of the 
country that Norwegian resistance or collaboration with Great Britain 
would be impossible. 49 The next day, after Falkenhorst had reviewed 
the Krancke Plan and prepared a rough preliminary estimate of his 
own, Hitler confirmed the appointment. On 26 February a selected 
staff from Headquarters, XXI Corps, began work in Berlin. 

The first major question concerned Denmark. Falkenhorst's staff 
decided not to rely on diplomatic pressure as the Krancke plan suggested 
and proposed, instead, a military occupation of Jutland which might 
have to be followed by an operation against Sjaelland if the Danish 
reaction were hostile. On 28 February Falkenhorst reported the change 
to Keitel and asked for a provisional corps headquarters and two divisions 
to conduct the operation in Denmark. 

On the same day, 28 February, an even more important change, one 
which eventually made extensive revision of the Krancke Plan necessary, 
was introduced. Replying to a question whether it would be better to 
execute Weseruebung before or after the offensive in the west (Opera- 
tion Gelb) which Hitler had raised two days earlier, Jodl proposed to 
prepare Weseruebung in such a fashion that it could be executed inde- 
pendently of Gelb in terms both of time and forces employed. All of 
the planning up to that time had assumed that Weseruebung would 
have to come either before or after Gelb since the parachute troops and 
transports of the 7 th Air Division would be required for both operations. 
The OKW now decided to reduce the commitment of parachute troops 
for Weseruebung to four companies and to hold back one airborne 
regiment of the 22d Infantry Division. These changes and that con- 
cerning Denmark Hitler approved on 29 February after he had estab- 
lished a landing at Copenhagen as an additional requirement. 50 Satisfied 
with the military plan, Hitler then called in Rosenberg and told him that 
there would be no attempt to enlist Quisling's active support in any 
form. 51 

The Fuehrer Directive 

On 1 March, in the "Directive for Case Weseruebung," Hitler 
established the general requirements for the operation and authorized 
the start of actual operational planning. The strategic objectives were 
to be to forestall a British intervention in Scandinavia and the Baltic 
Sea area, to provide security for the sources of Swedish iron ore, and 
to give the Navy and Air Forces advanced bases for attacks on the British 

& Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 20.2.40-8.4.40, 21 Feb 40. AOK 20 

60 Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 26-29 Feb 40. Jodl Diary, 28 and 29 
Feb 40. 

51 Seraphim, op. cit.. d. 102. 


Isles. The idea of a "peaceful" occupation to provide armed protection 
for the neutrality of the Scandinavian countries was to be basic to the 
operation. Daring and surprise would be relied on rather than strength 
in terms of numbers of troops. Weseruebung would consist of 
Weseruebung Nord, the air- and sea-borne invasion of Norway, and 
Weseruebung Sued, occupation of Jutland and Fuenen and landings 
on Sjaelland which could be expanded later if the Danes resisted. 
Charged with planning and executing Weseruebung, Falkenhorst, as 
Commanding General, Group XXI, would be directly subordinate to 
Hitler. 52 The forces to be employed would be requisitioned from the 
three services separately. The Air Force units for Weseruebung would 
be under the tactical control of Group XXI, and independent employ- 
ment of forces by the Air Force and Navy would be worked out in close 
collaboration with the Commanding General, Group XXI. 53 

The appearance of the Fuehrer Directive promptly brought a wave 
of protests and objections from the Army and the Air Force. With the 
campaign in the west impending, neither wanted to divert forces to a 
subsidiary theater of operations. The Army had not altered the negative 
attitude toward the projected operation that Haider had expressed on 
5 October 1939. Moreover, personal feelings were involved, since up 
to that time neither the OKH nor the OKL had been brought directly 
into the planning for Weseruebung. Haider noted in his diary that 
as of 2 March 1940 Hitler had not "exchanged a single word" with the 
Commander in Chief, Army, on the subject of Norway. Above all, the 
Army objected to troop dispositions being made independently by the 
OKW. 54 The Air Force entered a protest against the subordination of 
Luftwaffe units to Group XXI and, on 4 March, secured a ruling from 
Hitler that all air units would be placed under X Air Corps, which would 
receive its orders, "based on the requirements of Group XXI," through 
the OKL. The Air Force also did not want to release the 2 2d Infantry 
Division and considered the demands on the 7 th Air Division and other 
air units too high. 55 

In contrast to the other two service staffs, the Naval Staff endorsed 
the Fuehrer Directive wholeheartedly. Meeting, on 2 March, to re- 
view the directive, it decided that the problem was no longer purely 
military but had "become a first class question of war economy and 
politics." Reversing the position it had taken in January, the Naval 
Staff concluded : 

It is no longer solely a case of improving Germany's strategic position 
and gaining isolated military advantages or of weighing the pros and 

52 In German military terminology "group" (Gruppe) was used to designate an 
intermediate unit, in this instance, between a corps and an army. 

63 Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, WFA/Abt. L Nr. 22070/ 
40, Weisung fuer "Fall Weseruebung/' 1.3.40, in German High Level Directives, 
March-April 1940. 

54 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 64. Jodl Diary, 1 Mar 40. 

65 Jodl Diary, 3 and 4 Mar 40. 


cons of the possibility of executing Weseruebung and of asserting mili- 
tary scruples, but for the Armed Forces it is a matter of accommodation 
at lightning speed to political conditions and necessities. 

The Naval Staff recommended that Hitler be informed of the difficul- 
ties standing in the way of a successful execution of Weseruebung and of 
the Navy's determination "to abandon all scruples and sweep aside the 
difficulties that arise by using all its forces." 56 

On 3 March Hitler called for "the greatest speed" in preparing Wes- 
eruebung. He saw a necessity to act quickly and with force in Norway 
and forbade delays on the part of the individual services. He wanted the 
forces for Weseruebung assembled by 10 March and ready for the 
jump-off by the 13th so that a landing would be possible in northern Nor- 
way on approximately 17 March. He decided to execute Weserue- 
bung before Gelb (the offensive in the west), leaving an interval of 
about three days between the operations. 57 

On the afternoon of 5 March at the Reich Chancellery Falkenhorst 
and his chief of staff gave a progress report to Hitler and the three com- 
manders in chief. Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Goering, angry and 
claiming he had been kept in the dark about the operation, condemned 
all the planning so far as worthless. After Goering had given vent to 
his feelings, Hitler explained that he expected an Allied intervention in 
Scandinavia under the guise of help for Finland in the near future. He 
insisted again on accelerating the work on Weseruebung. 

Two days later, after Falkenhorst had staged a private presentation 
at Karinhall to sooth Goering's ruffled feelings, Weseruebung began to 
take concrete form. On 7 March Hitler signed a directive assigning the 
3d Mountain Division, the 69th, 163d, 196th, and 181st Infantry Divi- 
sions, and the 1 1th Motorized Rifle Brigade for employment in Norway 
and the 1 70th, 198th, and 2 14th Infantry Divisions for Denmark. That 
disposition of forces he declared final and no longer subject to change. 
Weseruebung and Gelb were thereby completely divorced from each 
other. 58 The 7th Air Division and 22d Infantry Division were released 
for Gelb. As a consequence, it was no longer possible to contemplate 
airborne and parachute landings on the scale which had been envisioned 
in the Krancke Plan. 

Hitler's Decision 

After 5 March the timing of Weseruebung became the major con- 
cern at the highest command level. In a conference with Hitler on the 
9th Raeder declared that prompt execution of Weseruebung was ur- 
gent. The British, he maintained, had the opportunity of occupying 

58 Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 10. 

" Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, pp. 78,81. J oil Diary, 3 Mar 40. 

68 OKW, WFA, Abt. L, Nr. 22082/40, in Anlagenband 1 zum K.T.B. 1, Anlagen 
1-52. AOK 20 E 180/7. Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 5 Mar 40. 
Jodl Diary, 5 and 7 Mar 40. 


Norway and Sweden under the pretext of sending troops to aid the 
Finns. Such an occupation would result in loss of the Swedish iron 
ore and could be decisive against Germany. He characterized Weserue- 
bung as contradicting all the principles of naval warfare since Germany 
not only did not have naval supremacy but would have to carry out 
the operation in the face of a vastly superior British Fleet; still, he 
predicted, success would be attained if surprise were achieved. 59 

On 12 March, as news of progress in the Soviet-Finnish peace con- 
ference spurred the Allies on to last- minute offers of assistance for 
Finland, Hitler ordered a speed-up in the German preparations and in- 
structed Group XXI to include an emergency action in its calculations. 60 
The Navy had canceled all other naval operations on 4 March and on 
that day began holding submarines in port for Weseruebung. On the 
11th, long-range submarines were dispatched to the main ports on the 
Norwegian west coast where they were to combat Allied invasion forces 
or, according to the circumstances, support Weseruebung. 61 

The peace treaty between Russia and Finland signed in Moscow on 
the night of 12 March created an entirely new situation. British sub- 
marines were observed concentrated off the Skagerrak on the 13th; 
and an intercepted radio message setting 14 March as the deadline for 
loading transports indicated that an Allied operation was getting under 
way; but another message, intercepted on the 15th, ordering the sub- 
marines to disperse, revealed that the peace had disrupted the Allied 
plan. 62 On the German side, ice in the Baltic Sea prevented the 
assembly and loading of the warships and transports for Weseruebung. 63 
The peace deprived both the Germans and the Allies of the means for 
justifying an invasion of Norway in world opinion; and Hitler, on 13 
March, ordered the planning continued "without excessive haste and 
without endangering secrecy." 64 

The OKW concluded that, with their pretext gone, the Allies would 
not attempt to take the offensive in Norway for the time being. Hitler 
was inclined to agree, but he believed that the British would not abandon 
their strategic aim of cutting off the German ore imports and, to ac- 
complish that, would begin by invading Norwegian territorial waters. 
He thought the Allies, later, might still go so far as to occupy bases and 
ports in Norway. In his opinion the Scandinavian area had become a 
decisive sphere of interest for both belligerents and would remain "a 
permanent seat of unrest"; therefore, he considered Weseruebung still 

69 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940-1, p. 20. 

60 Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 12 Mar 40. 

61 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 2265-NOKW. Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, 
p. 63. 

62 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940-1, p. 22. Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 100. 

63 Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 75. 

64 Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 13 Mar 40. 


necessary and reaffirmed his intention to carry out the operation shortly 
before Gelb. 65 

Jodl and Raeder concurred fully in Hitler's reasoning, but other 
officers in the small circle associated with Weseruebung began to have 
doubts. Jodl's deputy suggested that, since Operation Gelb could be 
expected to tie down the British and French ground and air forces for 
a long time, Weseruebung could be dropped. 66 Similar thoughts had, 
apparently, started taking root in Falkenhorst's staff. Jodl complained 
that Falkenhorst's "three chiefs" (Krancke and the Air Force represent- 
ative on the Krancke staff had been attached as naval and air chiefs of 
staff) were starting to worry about things that did not concern them 
and that Krancke saw more drawbacks than advantages in 
Weseruebung. 67 

It seems that even Hider, despite his expressed determination, would 
have preferred at least a temporary postponement. But the time for 
decision had come. From the point of view of the Navy an early exe- 
cution was imperative because all other naval operations had been 
brought to a standstill by Weseruebung and because after 15 April 
the nights in the northern latitudes would become too short to afford 
proper cover for the naval forces. Reporting to Hitler on 26 March, 
Raeder declared that, although there was no need to anticipate a British 
landing in Norway in the immediate future, he believed Germany would 
have to face the question of carrying out Weseruebung sooner or later. 
He advised that it be done as soon as possible. Hitler agreed and 
promised to set the date for some time in the period of the next new 
moon, which would begin on 7 April. 68 

On 1 April Hitler conducted a detailed review of the Weseruebung 
plan. After he had heard reports from Falkenhorst, the senior naval 
and air officers, and the commanders of the landing teams, he gave his 
approval and closed the meeting with a short address. He told the 
officers that the days until the occupation was completed would impose 
on him the greatest nervous strain of his life, but he was confident of 
victory since the history of warfare demonstrated that well and care- 
fully prepared operations usually succeeded with relatively small losses. 
The British were trying to cut Germany off from its sources of raw 
materials by disrupting the sea lanes along the Norwegian coast and 
intended, further, to assume the role of a "policeman" in Scandinavia 
and to occupy Norway. This he could not tolerate under any circum- 
stances. It was high time Germany provided itself with secure routes 
out into the world and did not allow every new generation to be sub- 
jected to British pressure. That was the fated struggle of the German 

65 Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 96. 

86 Walter Warlimont, Gutachten zu der Kriegstagebuch-Ausarbeitung OKW/WFSt, 
Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz," p. 10. MS # C-0991. OCMH. 

67 Jodl Diary, 28 Mar 40. 

68 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940-1, p. 22. Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 161. 


people, and he was not the man to evade necessary decisions or battles. 69 
On the next day, 2 April, having been assured by the Commanders 
in Chief, Air Force and Navy, that flying conditions were expected to 
be satisfactory and ice would not impede naval movements in the Baltic, 
Hitler designated 9 April as Weser Day and 0515 as Weser Time. 70 

Allied Objectives and Intentions 

An Allied staff paper of April 1939 on "broad strategic policy" recog- 
nized that in the first phase of a war with Germany economic warfare 
would be the only effective Allied offensive weapon. 71 In the light of 
this and the World ^War I experience in blockading Germany, Norway 
inevitably assumed a special importance for the Allies as soon as war 
broke out. Before mid-September 1939 the British Government had 
made its first attempt to secure from Norway a "sympathetic" interpre- 
tation of its rights as a neutral. 72 Winston Churchill, as First Lord of 
the Admiralty, was already engaged in devising more active measures. 
On 12 September he submitted his plan Catherine for sending naval 
forces through the straits leading into the Baltic Sea to gain control of 
those waters and to stop the Swedish ore traffic; but since it involved 
extensive alteration of several battleships to give them greater protection 
against aerial bombs, it could not be put into effect at an early date. 
At the end of the month he suggested mining Norwegian territorial 
waters to cut the ore route from Narvik. In December he renewed 
his efforts to obtain consent for the mining of the Leads but could not 
obtain a decision for action. 73 

During the early months of the war there was a strong tendency in 
the Allied camp to base hopes on the weakness of Germany in terms of 
strategic natural resources, with the result that Norway and the Swedish 
ore began to loom very large in Allied thinking. Late in November the 
British Ministry of Economic Warfare expressed the view that, cut off 
from the Swedish ore supply, Germany could not continue the war for 
more than twelve months and, deprived of the supply which passed 
through Narvik, would suffer "acute industrial embarrassment." 74 ( On 
the other hand, Admiral Raeder believed that Germany could stand the 
loss of from two and a half to three and a half million tons of ore per year 
which came via Narvik and that, by storing ore in Sweden during the 
winter for summer shipment, it could probably reduce the annual loss 

99 Gruppe XXI, la, Notiz fuer das Kriegstagebuch, 1.4.40, in Anlagenband 1 zum 
K.T.B. 1, Anlagen 1-52. AOK 20 E 180/7. 

70 Gruppe XXI, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 2 Apr 40. 

71 Butler, op. cit., p. 7 1 . 

72 T. K. Derry, The Campaign in Norway (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1952), 
p. 9. 

73 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Com- 
pany, 1948), Vol. I, p. 112. 

74 Derry, op. cit., p. 1 1. 


to about one million tons. ) 75 Subsequent Allied planning centered on 
the decisive significance of the Swedish ore, often to the extent of not 
recognizing all of the difficulties of securing and holding both Narvik 
and the Kiruna-Gallivare mines against the determined German coun- 
teraction such a move would undoubtedly produce. 

At the end of November the Soviet attack on Finland created new 
possibilities for the Allies by arousing a hope that the Scandinavian coun- 
tries, out of sympathy for Finland and on the ground of their obligations 
as members of the League of Nations, might permit Allied troops sent to 
aid the Finns to cross their territory. Such an undertaking could be 
made to include the occupation of Narvik and Kiruna-Gallivare almost 
automatically, since the Narvik-Lulea railroad provided the most direct 
route to Finland. The French Government went so far as to think of 
establishing a major theater of war in Scandinavia to draw the main 
action away from the Franco-German frontier. However, on 19 De- 
cember, when the French Premier Edouard Daladier proposed the dis- 
patch of an expeditionary force to Finland, he met opposition from the 
British, who were fearful of provoking a breach with the Soviet Union. 76 

When the early successes of the Finns made it appear that the Red 
Army would be a weak adversary, French enthusiasm for a second front 
in Scandinavia grew. After Marshal Mannerheim on 29 January 
appealed for support, the Supreme War Council of the Allies decided to 
send an expedition timed for mid-March. The French wanted to block- 
ade Murmansk and attempt landings in the Pechenga region and talked 
of simultaneous operations in the Caucasus in addition to the occupation 
of parts of Norway and Sweden. 77 The British plan, which was adopted, 
was more modest and, while ostensibly intended to bring Allied troops to 
the Finnish front, laid its main emphasis on operations in northern Nor- 
way and Sweden. The main striking force was to land at Narvik and 
advance along the railroad to its eastern terminus at Lulea, occupying 
Kiruna and Gallivare along the way. By late April two Allied brigades 
were to be established along that line. Another Allied brigade would 
then be sent on to Finland. A secondary force of five British Territorial 
battalions was to occupy Trondheim, Bergen, and Stavanger to provide 
defensive bases in southern Norway. Stavanger would be held only 
long enough to destroy its airfield, while Trondheim was to become the 
major base in the south and the port of debarkation for Allied troops 
sent into southern and central Sweden to meet the expected German 
counterattack. Eventually the British intended to put as many as 
1 00,000 men in the field, and the French 50,000. 78 

The Allied effort moved slowly, and massive Soviet offensives in 
February rapidly wore down the Finnish resistance. The execution 

75 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, 1, 16-18. 

76 Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, Erinnerungen (Zurich: Atlantis Verlag, 1952), p. 403. 
" International Military Tribunal, Doc. 83 — Raeder. 

"! Derry, op. cit., p. 13. 


of the Allied plan, meanwhile, remained contingent on the willingness 
of the Norwegian and Swedish Governments to grant rights of transit 
to the Allied troops. A Finnish request to that effect was turned down 
on 27 February, and another by the British and French Governments 
was refused on 3 March. By that time the Finns had decided to open 
peace negotiations. On 9 March the Finnish Ministers in Paris and 
London were told that, if the Finns issued a call for help, the Allies 
would come to their aid with all possible speed. The Allies promised 
delivery of a hundred bombers within two weeks, but the dispatch of 
troops still remained dependent on the attitude of Sweden and Norway. 
On the same day, 9 March, Marshal Mannerheim, who regarded the 
Allied proposal as too uncertain, gave his government categorical advice 
to conclude peace. 79 

At the last minute, on 1 2 March, still hoping for an appeal from the 
Finns, the Allies decided, at the suggestion of the French, to attempt a 
semipeaceable invasion of Scandinavia. Assuming that the recent diplo- 
matic responses of the Norwegian and Swedish Governments ran counter 
to public opinion in those countries, they proposed to "test on the Nor- 
wegian beaches the firmness of the opposition." A landing was to be 
made at Narvik; if it succeeded, it would be followed by one at Trond- 
heim. Forces for Bergen and Stavanger were to be held ready. The 
objectives were to take Narvik, the railroad, and the Swedish ore fields; 
but the landing and the advance into Norway and Sweden were to take 
place only if they could be accomplished without serious fighting. The 
troops were not to fight their way through either Norway or Sweden 
and were not to use force except "as an ultimate measure of self- 
defense." 80 The treaty which Finland signed in Moscow on the night of 
the 1 2th ended the Allied hopes. The troops which had been assembled 
in England were released to other assignments. 

On 21 March Paul Reynaud became the head of a French Govern- 
ment committed to a more aggressive prosecution of the war, and a week 
later, at a meeting of the Supreme War Council, the Scandinavian 
question again came under consideration. 81 The new Allied undertaking 
was to consist of two separate but related operations, Wilfred and 
Plan R 4. Wilfred involved the laying of two minefields in Nor- 
wegian waters, one in the approaches to the Vest Fiord north of Bodo 
and the other between Alesund and Bergen, with the pretended laying 
of a third near Molde. The laying of the minefields was to be justified 
in notes delivered to Norway and Sweden several days in advance pro- 
testing those nations' inability to protect their neutrality. The supposi- 
tion was that Wilfred would provoke a German counteraction, and 
Plan R 4 was to become effective the moment the Germans landed in 
Norway "or showed they intended to do so." Narvik and the railroad 

19 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 380-87. 

80 Butler, op. cit., p. 113. 

81 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 83 — Raeder. 


to the Swedish border were the principal objectives. The port was to 
be occupied by one infantry brigade and an antiaircraft battery, with 
the total strength to be built up eventually to 18,000 men. One bat- 
talion, in a transport escorted by two cruisers, was to sail within a few 
hours after the mines had been laid. Five battalions were to be employed 
in occupying Trondheim and Bergen and in raiding Stavanger to destroy 
the Sola airfield. The battalions at Trondheim and Bergen would later 
be reinforced by the troops from Stavanger if the movement could be 
managed, but otherwise they were cast on their own resources. The 
success of the plan depended heavily on the assumption that the Nor- 
wegians would not offer resistance, and, strangely, the possibility of a 
strong German reaction was left almost entirely out of account. 82 

The execution of Wilfred and Plan R 4 was at first tied to Opera- 
tion Royal Marine., a British proposal for sowing fluvial mines in the 
Rhine, to which the French objected on the ground that it would provoke 
German bombing of French factories. Wilfred had been scheduled 
for 5 April, but it was not until that date that the British Government 
agreed to carry out the Norwegian operations independently of Royal 
Marine. 83 As a result, the mines were not laid until the morning of 
8 April, at which time the German ships for Weseruebung were already 
advancing up the Norwegian coast. When it became known on the 
morning of the 8th that the German Fleet, which aircraft had sighted 
on the previous day, was at sea in the vicinity of Norway, the minelaying 
force was withdrawn, Plan R 4 was abandoned, and the British Fleet 
was ordered to sea in an attempt to intercept the German naval force. 84 

ra Deny, op. cit., p. 14. 

83 Churchill, op cit., pp. 508-10, and 575-83. International Military Tribunal, 
Doc. 83 — Raeder. 

" Deny, op. cit., pp. 25-26. 


Chapter 2 

The Problem 

Given the risks and limitations imposed by British naval superiority, 
the chief task in the German planning for the occupation of Norway 
was to devise a scheme of operations suited to the peculiarities of the 
Norwegian geography. From the first the German planning centered 
on one feature of the country which stood out above all the others, 
namely, that the population and economic life were concentrated along 
the coast or in valleys cutting inland from the coast and that settlement 
was not contiguous but further concentrated in nodes relatively isolated 
from one another, the largest of them around Oslo, Bergen, and 

Oslo was by far the most important. It was not only the political 
capital and largest city but was situated in the heart of the dominant 
agricultural and industrial region and was the hub of the railroad net- 
work fanning out to Trondheim, Andalsnes, Bergen, and the cities of the 
south coast. Its location in the southeastern corner of the country off 
the narrow waters of the Skagerrak made it easily accessible from the 
German-controlled Baltic Sea and placed it beyond the reach of the 
British Navy. In the south the Danish peninsula of Jutland was vir- 
tually a land bridge from Germany to Oslo and the Norwegian south 
coast. Bergen, the second largest city, was strategically significant for 
its location close to the British Isles. Trondheim, the medieval capital 
of Norway, ranked next to Oslo as a center of economic activity. It 
dominated the land and coastal sea routes from the south into the Nor- 
wegian Arctic regions. For the Germans, is was an indispensable step- 
pingstone to Narvik. Of the Norwegian Atlantic ports, it offered the 
most promise as a naval base. Also important as ports were Tromso, 
Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Haugesund and, militarily at least, Bodo, 
Namsos, and Andalsnes. Two of these had to be included in the Ger- 
man planning : Stavanger for its air base and Kristiansand because of its 
strategic position on the Norwegian south coast. In the case of the 
others the risks of leaving them open had to be weighed against the 
necessity to husband the limited shipping which the Navy could provide, 
and, in the end, they were all omitted. 


The scattering and isolation of the principal centers were not acci- 
dental but were imposed by the nature of the terrain. The cities occu- 
pied the few relatively low-lying and hospitable areas of a country in 
which one half of the land lay at altitudes over 2,000 feet and mountains 
rose abruptly out of the sea all along the coast. Interior communica- 
tions were poorly developed because of the expense of building roads 
and railroads which required hundreds of tunnels and bridges. The 
sea afforded the most dependable and expeditious routes of 

Tactically, the best solution, as the Germans quickly concluded, was 
to take as many of the main centers as possible in the first assault and 
establish contact between them later. Its correctness was confirmed 
by the known condition and dispositions of the Norwegian Army. The 
Army, a victim of years of neglect, could, as a consequence of the recent 
crisis, be expected to have reached approximately its authorized peace- 
time strength of 19,000 men, about one-fifth of full mobilization. Its 
six divisions (in wartime field brigades) were assigned as follows: 1st 
Division — Halden, 2d Division — Oslo, 3d Division — Kristiansand, 4th 
Division — Bergen, 5th Division — Trondheim, and 6th Division — 
Harstad. If Oslo, Kristiansand, Bergen, and Trondheim were taken 
simultaneously, it could be expected that five of the six Norwegian 
divisions would either be knocked out immediately or seriously 

The Navy 

Operation Weseruebung was acutely vulnerable during its naval 
phase since the German Navy, even with all of its available ships com- 
mitted, was no match for the British Navy. A British intervention 
while the ships were at sea could have resulted in both failure of the 
operation and annihilation of the Navy. Consequently, from the be- 
ginning, the planning had laid heavy emphasis on surprise. To achieve 
surprise, speed and accurate timing were essential. It was therefore 
decided to transport the assault troops to Norway on warships. 

To execute the operation, a so-called Warship Echelon of 1 1 groups 
was organized as follows : 

Group 1 (Narvik) : the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau 

with 10 destroyers (2,000 troops) . 
Group 2 (Trondheim) : the cruiser Hipper and 4 destroyers ( 1,700 

Group 3 (Bergen) : the cruisers Koeln and Koenigsberg, the serv- 
ice ships Bremse and Karl Peters, 3 torpedo boats, 5 motor 
torpedo boats (1,900 troops). 

Group 4 ( Kristiansand- Arendal) : the cruiser Karlsruhe, the 
special service ship Tsingtau, 3 torpedo boats, and 7 motor 
torpedo boats (1,100 troops). 


Group 5 (Oslo) : the cruisers Bluecher, Luetzow, Emden, 3 tor- 
pedo boats, 2 armed whaling boats, and 8 minesweepers ( 2,000 

Group 6 (Egersund) : 4 minesweepers (150 troops). 

Group 7 (Korsor and Nyborg) : (1,990 troops) . 

Group 8 (Copenhagen) : (1,000 troops) . 

Group 9 (Middelfart) : (400 troops). 

Group 10 (Esbjerg) : (no troops). 

Group 11 (Tyboron) : (no troops). 
Groups 7 to 1 1 consisted of the World War I battleship Schleswig- 
Holstein (to provide artillery support for the landing at Korsor) and 
miscellaneous minesweepers, submarine chasers, merchant ships, tugs, 
and picket boats. 

Groups 1 and 2 were to proceed together to the vicinity of Trondheim 
escorted by the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, which carried no troops. 
Group 2 would then maneuver at sea until W Time, while Group 1 con- 
tinued north to Narvik. After passing the latitude of Trondheim, the 
Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst would set a northwesterly course away 
from the coast to divert British naval units in the area. The Luetzow 
was at first scheduled to join Group 2 and, after taking troops to Trond- 
heim, to break out into the Atlantic on a raiding mission, but when 
engine trouble developed at the last minute the cruiser had to be 
transferred to the Oslo Group. 1 

The warships could not carry heavy equipment or large quantities of 
supplies for the troops, and the destroyers would exhaust their fuel loads 
on the trips to Narvik and Trondheim. To meet these problems and 
because it was expected that the British would intercept all ships moving 
north along the west coast of Norway after W Day, the Tanker Echelon 
and the Export Echelon {Ausfuhr staff el) were created. Their ships, 
disguised as ordinary merchant vessels, were to put in at Norwegian ports 
before the arrival of the warships. The Tanker Echelon was made up 
of eight ships, two for Narvik and one for Trondheim to reach port 
before W Day, the rest to dock at Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Kristian- 
sand on W Day. The Export Echelon, carrying military equipment 
and supplies, consisted of seven ships, three for Narvik, three for Trond- 
heim, and one for Stavanger. 2 

The Krancke staff had proposed that the merchant ships leave 
Germany after the warships and reach their destinations approximately 
five days after the landings. But Group XXI saw very little likelihood 
of any German ships being able to make port on the west coast of Norway 
after W Day and returned to the device of stationing the merchant ships 

^urt Assmann, Deutsche Schicksalsjahre (Wiesbaden: Eberhard Brockhaus, 
1950), p. 134. Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 44, 96-98. Verbindungsstab Marine, B. Nr. 
130, Seetransportuebersicht nach dem Stande vom 22.3.40, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagen- 
band 4 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 55. AOK 20 E 180/9b. 

2 Verbindungsstab Marine, B. Nr. 130, loc. cit. Assmann Schicksalsjahre, p. 135. 


in Norwegian ports before W Day, which the Naval Staff had rejected 
as too dangerous in its original work on Studie Nord. The Navy pro- 
tested that this method of operation jeopardized the secrecy of the 
operation. 3 To meet the Navy's objections, OKW ordered that none 
of the ships in the Export and Tanker Echelons were to depart before 
W minus 6 days. As a result, the danger of a breach of secrecy still 
existed, and most of the ships, after minor delays, did not have enough 
time to reach their destinations. 4 

The main troop and supply movement was to be carried out by 
eight sea transport echelons. The 1st Sea Transport Echelon, timed to 
reach port on W Day, was made up of 15 ships going to Oslo, Kristian- 
sand, Bergen, and Stavanger. All succeeding echelons were to unload at 
Oslo. The 1st Sea Transport Echelon also aroused misgivings in the 
naval command since its ships, which would be at sea before the ships 
of the Warship Echelon, carried troops in uniform. To preserve secrecy, 
the 1st Sea Transport Echelon was given the code designation Ostpreus- 
sen Staffel, and the ships' captains were given orders to proceed to 
East Prussia, ostensibly to relieve pressure on the railroads. Not until 
after they had put to sea were they given instructions concerning their 
actual destinations. 5 The 2d Sea Transport Echelon (11 ships) and 
the 3d ( 13 ships) were to dock at Oslo on W plus 2 and W plus 6 days, 
respectively. The 4th to 8th Echelons would arrive between W plus 8 
and W plus 12 days, using the returned ships of the first three echelons. 6 

For the Navy, the most dangerous part of the operation, as Raeder 
saw it, was the return of the warships. He was confident that the land- 
ings could be executed successfully if surprise were achieved, but he be- 
lieved that thereafter the ships along the west and north coasts of Nor- 
way would be exposed to attack by superior British forces. Raeder 
wanted the ships of the Narvik and Trondheim groups to rejoin the 
Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau as quickly as possible for a combined 
breakthrough to their home ports, while those at and south of Bergen 
were to return independently using the cover of the coasts as far as 
possible. 7 That intention met with opposition from Hitler, the OKW, 
and the OKL, all of whom wanted ships left at the ports, particularly at 
Narvik and Trondheim, to furnish artillery and antiaircraft support and 
to bolster the morale of the troops. Raeder, on the other hand, defended 
the viewpoint that not one destroyer, let alone a cruiser, could be left 
behind at Narvik or Trondheim at a time when the fate of the German 
Navy was hanging in the balance. 8 The question was debated until 

3 Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, pp. 18, 20. 

4 Assmann, e, p. 136. 

6 Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, p. 53. General der Infanterie a.D. Erich Buschenhagen, 
Comments on Part I, The German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940—1945, 
7 Jun 56. 

* Verbindungsstabmarine, B. Nr. 130, loc. cit. 
1 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, 1, p. 20. 
8 Ibid. 


2 April, when Hitler declared that he personally did not approve of 
the decision to withdraw the ships immediately but did not want to 
interfere too strongly in matters pertaining purely to naval warfare. 9 
Barring accidents, only the submarines were to engage enemy naval 
forces. Operation Hartmut by the submarines was planned to pro- 
vide protection for the surface ships during the transport phase and to 
provide defense against enemy naval action at the beachheads. In all, 
28 submarines were to be stationed off Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, 
Stavanger, in the vicinity of the Orkney and Shetland islands, and west 
of the Skagerrak. Some of the units for Narvik and Trondheim had left 
port as early as 1 1 March. The main force departed between 3 1 March 
and 6 April. 10 

Group XXI 

The Command Organization 

The Norwegian campaign, depending for its successful execution 
equally on each of the three services, was the first German armed forces 
operation. In the "Directive for Case Weseruebung" of 1 March 1 940 
the staff of Group XXI was made directly subordinate to Hitler. The 
staff operated within the OKW, receiving its instructions from Hitler 
and from the OKW. The Chief of the Operations Staff, OKW, General 
Jodl, and under him the National Defense Branch headed by Col. 
Walter Warlimont participated in the planning and acted as a coordinat- 
ing agency in cases where the requirements of Group XXI involved de- 
mands on one or another of the services. 11 

A unified command, at least of the air and ground forces, was pro- 
jected at the start; but, after Air Force protests resulted in the Air Force's 
retaining tactical control of its units employed in Weseruebung, Falken- 
horst remained in actual command only of the ground forces. The 
OKL and the OKM conducted their own planning independently in 
collaboration with Group XXI and assigned operational control to 
separate commands. The Air Force and Navy representatives of the 
Krancke staff remained with the staff of Group XXI, where they main- 
tained liaison with their respective services. Command of the air units 
was given to X Air Corps under Generalleutenant Hans Geissler. For 
the Navy, the Naval Staff did the planning, aided by the staffs which 
would command the operations at sea, Naval Group West (North Sea 
and the Atlantic coast of Norway) and Naval Group East (Baltic Sea, 
Kattegat, and Skagerrak ) . 12 

The planning and direction of operations in Denmark were assigned 
to the staff of the XXXI Corps under General der Flieger Leonhard 

" Jodl Diary, 2 Apr 40. 

M International Military Tribunal, Doc. 151-C. Hubatsch, op. cit., p. 47. Ass- 
mann, Schicksalsjahre., p. 134. 

11 International Military Tribunal, Docs. 174-G and 3520-NOKW. 

12 Jodl Diary, 3 Mar 40. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 2265-NOKW. 


Kaupisch. The XXXI Corps was to be directly subordinate to Group 
XXI until W plus 3 days, when it would revert to the control of OKH. ls 

To maintain liaison after the landings, the Heimatstab Nord (Home 
Staff North ) was created. It consisted of one officer from each of the 
services and was attached to the OKW, where it functioned as a link 
between Group XXI and OKW. Its principal mission immediately 
after the landings was to supervise and regulate the sea transport 
movements for Weseruebung Nord. 14 

For the operation itself, a three-way division of command was evolved. 
Falkenhorst commanded the ground troops. With respect to his opposite 
numbers in the Navy and Air Force he ranked as "the first among 
equals," but he had no direct authority over units of the other two 
services. The Navy appointed a Commanding Admiral, Norway, and 
Plenipotentiary of the Commander in Chief, Navy, with his head- 
quarters in Oslo; an Admiral of the Norwegian South Coast at 
Kristiansand, who had under him the port commanders at Oslo and 
Kristiansand ; and an Admiral of the Norwegian West Coast at Bergen, 
with the port commanders at Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik 
under him. 15 The X Air Corps had exclusive control of air opera- 
tions, and General Haider noted in his diary in mid-April that Falken- 
horst did not have control of a single plane. 16 In the course of the 
campaign a Luftgaukommando (territorial ground command of the Air 
Force) was formed, and then on 12 April the Fifth Air Force under 
Generaloberst Erhard Milch was installed to assume control of both 
the Luftgaukommando and the Air Corps. 17 

The three-way division of command functions was particularly in evi- 
dence at the time of the initial landings. During the transport phases 
the Navy had full command at all levels at sea and the Air Force in the 
air. For substantial changes in the plan the agreement of Group XXI 
was to be obtained. During the landings command passed to the senior 
Army officer at each beachhead, whose demands for naval and air 
support were to be met "as far as possible." At the individual beach- 
heads the commanding officer of the Army units was responsible for 
ground operations and security; the Navy appointed a port com- 
mander to take charge of the seaward defenses; and, where air units were 
available, the senior Air Force officer became responsible for air se- 
curity. One of the three, usually the senior officer present, was desig- 
nated armed forces commander. In emergencies he was empowered 

13 Holder Diary, Vol. Ill, 101. 

14 Gruppe XXI, la, 191/40, Dienstanweisung fuer den "Heimatstab Nord," in 
Anlagenband 1 zum Ktb Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52, 20.2.-8.4.40. AOK 20 E 180/7. 

16 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 71/40, in Anlagenband 2 zum K.T.B. Nr. 1, Anlage 53. 
AOK E 180/8. WBN, la, Nr. 1394/41, Erfahrungsbericht ueber Aufgaben des W.B., 
19.4.41, in Anlage zu AOK Norwegen la, Nr. 2179/44. AOK 20 53295. 

10 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, 1 18. 

17 Ulrich O. E. Kessler, The Role of the Luftwaffe in the Campaign in Norway, 
1940,p.8. MS#B-485. OCMH. 


to issue orders to all three services within his district; on the whole it 
was assumed that each would receive his orders through his own 
command channels. 18 

The peculiarities of the command organization, which were in part a 
result of interservice jealousy, were to a large extent dictated by the 
German lack of experience in combined operations. The OKW was 
organized to coordinate rather than to command, and Falkenhorst had 
no substantial experience in directing either air or naval operations. 
The final report on experiences of the campaign submitted by Group 
XXI states: 

That the commands and troop contingents of the three armed forces 
branches worked together almost without friction cannot be credited to 
purposeful organization of the commanding staff. It was, instead, 
entirely an achievement of the personalities involved who knew how to 
cooperate closely in order to overcome the inadequacies of organization. 19 

The Ground Forces, Norway 

"Operations Order No. 1 for the Occupation of Norway," based on 
Hitler's directive of 1 March, was issued by Group XXI on 5 March. 
It was concerned with the landings and consolidation of the beachheads. 
Two possibilities were envisioned: (1) peaceful occupation could be 
achieved; (2) the landings and occupation would have to be carried 
out by force. If the first possibility materialized, the Norwegian Gov- 
ernment was to be assured of extensive respect for its internal sovereignty, 
and the Norwegian troops were to be treated tactfully. If resistance 
was encountered, the landings were to be forced by all possible means, 
the beachheads secured, and nearby training centers of the Norwegian 
Army occupied. The complete destruction of the Norwegian Army 
was not considered possible as an immediate objective because of the 
size of the country and difficulty of the terrain, but it was believed that 
the localities selected for landings comprised the majority of the places 
which needed to be taken in order to prevent an effective mobilization 
and assembly of Norwegian forces and to control the country in general. 
The landing teams were to attempt operations against forces in the 
interior only if they could be conducted without impairing the defense 
of the beachheads. Attempted Allied landings were to be fought off, 
but unnecessary losses were to be avoided. If the enemy proved superior, 
the troops were to withdraw inland until a counterattack could be 
launched. 20 

w Gruppe XXI, la, Anlage zu la Nr. 82/40, Unterstellungsverhaeltnisse bet 
"Weseruebung Nord," in Anlagenband 1 zum KTB Nr. 1, Anlagen I- 52 \ 20.2- 
8.4.40. AOK 20 E 180/7. 

19 Gruppe XXI, la, in Erfahrungsberichte der Gruppe XXI von 30.7.40. AOK 
20 E 279/15. 

20 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 20/40, Operationsbefehl fuer die Besetzung Norwegens Nr. 
1, in Anlagenband zum Ktb, Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52. AOK 20 E 180/7. 


For Norway six divisions were assigned: the 3d Mountain Division 
(two infantry regiments) and the 69th, 163d, 181st, 196th, and 214th 
Infantry Divisions. The 3d Mountain Division had seen some action 
in the Polish campaign; the rest were newly formed divisions. In 
addition, Group XXI was given four batteries of 10-cm. guns, two 
batteries of 15-cm. guns, one tank company with Mark I and II tanks 
(the Mark I mounted two machine guns, the Mark II a 2-cm. gun), 
two companies of railroad construction troops and one communications 
battalion. 21 The Air Force supplied three parachute companies and 
three antiaircraft battalions, which remained under the command of 
X Air Corps. 22 In terms of numbers the German and Norwegian 
divisions were equally matched, but the Norwegian divisions, for the 
most part, existed only on paper. 

Landings were to be made at Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, Kristian- 
sand, and Oslo, and landing parties of one company each sent ashore at 
Egersund and Arendal to take possession of the cable stations. 
Stavanger was to be taken in an airborne operation. 23 The size of the 
initial sea-borne landing force, 8,850 men, was determined by the 
available shipping space since the assault troops had to be moved in 
fast warships. No major reinforcement of the landing teams at the 
beachheads was contemplated until contact could be established over- 
land with Oslo, where the main force was to debark — 16,700 men (in 
addition to the 2,000 landed on W day) to be brought in by three sea 
transport echelons during the first week, and another 40,000 to be 
transported in shuttle movements thereafter. 24 An additional 8,000 
troops were to be transported by air within three days. 25 

The first operations order was followed in March by a series of de- 
tailed orders for each of the landing teams. Separate plans were drawn 
up for taking the coastal fortifications on the fiords, since the passing 
of these fortifications was expected to be a critical point in the operation, 
and alternate landing sites were selected for use in the event that the 
coastal batteries could not be taken. The projected execution of 
Weseruebung Nord after the landings was outlined in "Operations 
Order No. 2," which Group XXI issued on 2 April. 

In the final plan Oslo was to be taken by elements of the 163 d In- 
fantry Division, two battalions brought in on warships and two battal- 
ions arriving by air transport after two companies of parachute troops 

n Ibid. 

K Gen. Kdo. X Fl. K., Ia, Nr. 10058, 73, 89, 90, and 91/50, in Gruppe XXI, 
Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb, Nr. 1, Anlage 54. AOK 20 E 180/9a. 

23 Gruppe XXI, Ia. 20/40, loc. cit. 

24 Verbindungsstab Marine, B. Nr. 130, Seetransportuebersicht nach dem Stande 
von 22.3.40, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 5 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 56. AOK 20 
E 180/10. Kurt Assmann, The German Campaign in Norway. Origin of the Plan, 
Execution of the Operation, and Measures Against Allied Counter-attack (London: 
Naval Staff, Admiralty, 1 948 ) , p. 1 3 . 

26 Gruppe XXI, Ia, (2) Nr. 200/40, in Anlagenband 5 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 56. 
AOK 20 E 180/10. 


had secured Fornebu Airfield. A reinforced battalion of the 163 d 
would execute the landing at Kristiansand, and the division bicycle 
troops would take Arendal. The force at Kristiansand was to be 
brought up to regimental strength by the arrival at about noon on W 
Day of ships carrying two more battalions. As soon as troops became 
available at Oslo the 163d Division was to secure the rail line Oslo- 
Bergen as far as Honefoss and the line Oslo-Kristiansand as far as 
Kongsberg. 26 

The 69th Infantry Division was to occupy the Norwegian west coast 
from Nordfiord (one hundred miles north of Bergen) to Egersund. 
Two battalions would land at Bergen, two by air at Stavanger (a third 
reaching Stavanger by air on W plus 1 day), and the division bicycle 
troop at Egersund. The remaining units of the 69th Division were to 
arrive at Oslo on W plus 2 and 3 days and proceed by rail to Bergen. 

Trondheim was to be taken by two battalions of the 138th Regiment 
of the 3d Mountain Division. Its 139th Regiment and the division 
headquarters would land at Narvik, where they were to gain control of 
the railroad to the Swedish border and, later, occupy Tromso and 
Harstad, the headquarters of the Norwegian 6th Division. A strong 
detachment was to be kept in readiness to occupy the iron mines -at 
Kiruna in Sweden. The battalions at Trondheim and the units sched- 
uled to follow via Oslo would be sent to Narvik when the situation 

The 196th Infantry Division, upon reaching Oslo on W plus 2 days, 
was to create conditions for an advance by rail to Trondheim and 
Andalsnes, taking and holding Lillehammer, Hamar, and Elverum 
north of Oslo with two regiments. The third regiment was to proceed 
by rail to Andalsnes as soon as possible, and the first two regiments were 
to be relieved on W plus 7 days to move northward to Trondheim. 
From Trondheim, a regiment would advance northward to occupy 
Steinkjer, Grong, Namsos, and Mosjoen. The mission of the division 
would then be to hold the northwest coast of Norway from the 66th 
parallel (in the vicinity of Mosjoen) to Alesund and to secure the 
interior to the Swedish border. 

The 181st Infantry Division, after debarking at Oslo on W plus 6 
days, was to mop up the Norwegian forces east and southeast of Oslo; 
the first available troops would take Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg, and Halden 
southeast of Oslo. One regiment would relieve the units of the 163d 
Division holding the area Kjeller-Lillestrom, and a reinforced battalion 
would advance to Kongsvinger near the Swedish border. Taking ad- 
vantage of the Glommen Line (fortifications which the Norwegians 
had built before World War I along the Glommen River), the division 

26 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 194/40, Operationsbefehl Nr. 2, Weisungen fuer die 
Besetzung Norwegens nach durchgefuehrter Landung, in Anlagenband 1 zum Ktb. Nr. 
1, Anlagen 1-52, 20.2-4.8.40. AOK 20 E 180/7. Gruppe XXI, la, Anlage 77, 
Kartenband zum Ktb. 1. AOK 20 E 180/23. Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 85, 86. 


would prepare to stand off any attempted Swedish intervention. An- 
other regiment would relieve the units of the 196th Division in the 
Lillehammer-Hamar-Elverum area. 

The 214th Infantry Division would reach Oslo on W plus 8 days. 
It was to provide security for the southwest coast from the Bomla Fiord 
(north of Stavanger) to the Sondeled Fiord (northeast of Arendal). 
The mass of the division would be concentrated in the Stavanger area. 
The 214th Division would relieve units of the 163d Division at Kris- 
tiansand and of the 69th Division at Stavanger. 

At the completion of the operation the distribution of forces would 
be as follows: the 181st Division east of Oslo and in the zone along the 
Swedish border, the 163d Division in Oslo and holding the zone im- 
mediately west of Oslo from the mouth of the Oslo Fiord to Hamar, 
the 214th Division holding the area Stavanger-Kristiansand-Arendal, 
the 69th Division at Bergen, the 196th Division in the zone Andalsnes- 
Trondheim-Mosjoen, and the 3d Mountain Division holding the 
Narvik-Tromso area. 27 

The Ground Forces, Denmark 

Group XXI issued "Operations Order No. 1 for the Occupation of 
Denmark" on 20 March, and the plan for Weseruebung Sued was 
worked out in detail in "Corps Order No. 3" which the XXXI Corps 
completed on 21 March. The XXXI Corps, organized to take advan- 
tage of the ideal terrain conditions in Denmark for operations by mobile 
troops, was to be composed of the 170th (one regiment on trucks) and 
198th Infantry Divisions, the 11th Motorized Rifle Brigade (with Mark 
I and II tanks), three motorized machine gun battalions, two batteries 
of heavy artillery (10-cm.), two companies of tanks (Mark I and II), 
and three armored trains. The Air Force supplied a company of 
parachute troops, a motorcycle company from the "General Goering" 
Regiment, and two battalions of antiaircraft guns. 

The 1 70th Division and the 1 1th Motorized Rifle Brigade were to take 
Jutland in an advance northward from the German-Danish border. 
The principal objective of the operations in Jutland (in fact, the prin- 
cipal objective of Weseruebung Sued) was Aalborg, at the northern 
tip of the Peninsula. Its two airfields were to be taken on W plus 2 
hours by a parachute platoon and an airborne battalion. The 11th 
Motorized Rifle Brigade, supported on its left by the motorized regiment 
of the 170th Division, was to advance rapidly along the west side of 
the peninsula, reaching Aalborg on W Day. The remaining regiments 
of the 1 70th Division were to break any resistance which might be offered 
along the border or in the south and reach Aalborg, Frederikshaven, and 
Skagen on W plus 1 or W plus 2 days. Three reinforced companies 

27 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 194/40, loc. cit. Gruppe XXI, la, Anlagen 77 and 78, 
Kartenband zum Ktb. 1. AOK 20 E 180/23. 


of the 1 70th Division were to go by sea from Kiel to Middelfart, landing 
at W Hour to secure the bridge across the Little Belt and subsequently 
advancing across Fuenen to Nyborg. On the west coast of Jutland, 
light naval forces were to land at Esbjerg and Tyboron. 

The mission of the 198th Infantry Division was to occupy Sjaelland. 
One battalion was to land at Copenhagen; the division staff and a re- 
inforced battalion were to land at Korsor on the west coast of Sjaelland 
and advance overland to Copenhagen; and one company would land 
at Nyborg to secure the crossing of the Great Belt. A battalion with 
an armored train, transported by train ferry from Warnemuende, was 
to land at Gedser and advance northward to Copenhagen across Falster 
via the bridge at Vordingborg, which was to be taken in advance by 
a parachute company (less one platoon) , 28 

The Air Force 

The X Air Corps, which had operated against British merchant ship- 
ping and naval forces, was reinforced with a variety of types of air units 
for Weseruebung. Its principal units were the 4th, 26th, and 30th 
Bombardment Wings. 29 The 26th Bombardment Wing had one 
group of the 100th Bombardment Wing attached. Attached to the 30th 
Bombardment Wing were one dive bomber group, two twin-engine 
fighter groups, one single-engine fighter group, one coastal reconnais- 
sance and naval support group, and two long-range reconnaissance 
squadrons. 80 Under the Transport Chief (Land) the corps had seven 
groups of three- and four-engine transports and the 1st Special Purpose 
Transport Wing (Kampfgeschwader z.b.V. 1 ) for airborne and para- 
chute operations. Under the Transport Chief (Sea) it had the 108th 
Special Purpose Transport Wing (seaplane transports) and three air- 
traffic safety ships. 31 The number of aircraft of various types employed 
was approximately as follows : 32 

28 Gruppe XXI, Ia, 126/40, Operationsbefehl fuer die Besetzung von Daenemark, 
Nr. 1, in Anlagenband 1 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52, 20.2-8.4.40. AOK 20 E 
180/7. Hoeheres Kommando z.b.V. XXXI, la, Nr. 123/40, Korpsbefehl Nr. 3, in 
Befehlshaber der deutschen Truppen in Daenemark, Besetzung Daenemarks am 9. 
u. 10.4.40. XXXI AOK E 290/2. Gruppe XXI, la, Anlage 84, Kartenband zum 
Ktb,l. AOK 20 E 180/23. 

29 A wing (Geschwader) totaled about 100 aircraft organized into three groups. 
The group {gruppe), totaling about 27 aircraft, was organized into three squadrons 
(Staff eln) of 9 planes each. 

30 Assmann, Schicksalsjahre., p. 136. Hubatsch, op. ext., p. 415. Generalkommando 
X Fl. K., Ia, B. Nr. 10053/40, Operationsbefehl fuer das X Fliegerkorps am Wesertag, 
in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 3, zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 54. AOK 20 E 180/9a. 

31 Hubatsch op. cit., p. 415. Generalkommando des X Fl. K., Ia., Nr. 10056/40, 
Weisungen fuer den Transportchef (Land) fuer die Weseruebung and Nr. 10057/40, 
Weisungen fuer den Transportchef (Sea) fuer die Weseruebung, in Gruppe XXI, 
Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 54. AOK 20 E 180/9a. 

32 The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, Great Britain, Air Ministry Pam- 
phlet No. 248 (1948), p. 59. 




Bombers 290 

Dive bombers 40 

Single-engine fighters 30 

Twin-engine fighters 70 

Long-range reconnaissance 40 

Coastal 30 

Transports 500 

The "Operations Order for the X Air Corps on Weser Day," to- 
gether with detailed orders for the subordinate units, was issued on 
20 March. The main bomber force, one wing plus two groups (less two 
squadrons), was to be held in readiness at German bases to combat 
British naval forces. One squadron was to land at Stavanger on W Day 
and operate against British naval forces from there. The remaining 
bombers were to stage aerial demonstrations over Norway and Denmark. 
Two groups were to demonstrate over Oslo (one squadron landing at 
Oslo as soon as Fornebu Airfield had been taken and thereafter becoming 
available for support of the ground troops), one group in the zone 
Kristiansand-Bergen, one squadron over Stavanger, one group over 
Copenhagen, and one group in support of the advance of the ground 
troops through Jutland. The units staging demonstrations were to be 
prepared to support the landings, by force if necessary, and had the 
additional missions of leaflet dropping and observation of the progress 
of ground operations. The dive bomber group was to transfer two 
squadrons to Aalborg on the morning of W Day and one squadron to 
Stavanger that afternoon. It would operate against British naval forces. 
One twin-engine fighter group, less 15 planes, after supporting the air- 
borne operation at Aalborg, was to land there and assume responsibility 
for the protection of air-transport movements between Aalborg, 
Stavanger, and Oslo. Three flights (Schwaerme), of five twin-engine 
fighters each, were to support the landings at Oslo, Stavanger, and 
Copenhagen. Those at Oslo and Stavanger would land there; that 
over Copenhagen would land at Aalborg. The other twin-engine fighter 
flight would provide fighter cover for the bombers over Copenhagen and, 
after supporting the further operations of the 4th Bombardment Wing, 
proceed to Aalborg. The single-engine fighter group would support the 
taking of Esbjerg by ground troops and land either at Esbjerg or Oksbol, 
thereafter taking over the defense of the Danish west coast. It was 
intended to transfer the dive bombers and fighters employed in Jutland 
to Norway on W plus l. 33 

33 Generalkommando des X Fl. K., Ia, Nr. 10053/40, loc. cit. Generalkommando 
des X Fl. K., Ia, Nr. 10064/40 Befehl fuer den Einsatz des Kampfgeschwaders 26 
am Weser tag; Nr. 10054/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz des Kampfgeschwaders 4-am 
Wesertag; Nr. 10054/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz des Kampfgeschwaders 30 am 
Wesertag; Nr. 10055/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz der I./Stukageschwader 1 am 
Wesertag; Nr. 10052/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz der I./ZG 76 am Wesertag; Nr. 
10051/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz der LI./JG 77 ab Wesertag, in Gruppe XXI, 
Anlagenband3 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 54. AOK 20 E 180/9a. 


The Transport Chief ( Land ) was to employ seven groups in transport 
movements to Oslo, Stavanger, and Aalborg and the special purpose 
wing in the airborne and parachute operations. The Transport Chief 
(Sea) was to station air- traffic safety ships at Trondheim and Bergen 
on W Day, to transport troops to Bergen on W Day, and to begin moving 
troops and supplies to Trondheim and Narvik on W plus 1 . The two 
squadrons of long-range reconnaissance planes were to reconnoiter over 
the North Sea beginning on W minus 1 day (one squadron) and to 
observe the progress of the landing on W Day. The coastal recon- 
naissance and naval support group was to move two squadrons to 
Trondheim and one to Bergen on W Day, where they would assume 
responsibility for reconnaissance off the Norwegian coast. 34 

Political Planning 

To preserve secrecy, participation of civilian offices in the planning 
for Weseruebung was prohibited, and political preparations were 
handled within the National Defense Branch of the Operations Staff, 
OKW, where the economic, administrative, and diplomatic measures 
were formulated in advance, to be transmitted to the appropriate 
agencies for execution at the proper time. The major political objective 
was to dissuade the Norwegian and Danish Governments from armed 
resistance and to persuade them to tolerate the German occupation. 
For their acquiescence, the governments were to be offered extensive 
retention of their internal sovereignty and economic aid. Their foreign 
political sovereignty was to be circumscribed. The initial demands were 
not to go beyond those necessary for the success of the operation in order 
to make their acceptance easy and on the assumption that more far-reach- 
ing demands could be put through without difficulty after the Wehrmacht 
had control. The troop commanders at the beachheads were to attempt 
to reach agreements with local governmental units before directives 
from the central authorities could arrive, and at the beginning of the 
operation the populations and armed forces were to be subjected to an 
intensive campaign of radio and leaflet propaganda calculated to arouse 
the impression that it was in the national interest not to resist the German 
forces. 35 

To protect the landward flank, strict neutrality was to be required 
of Sweden with assurances that Swedish warships would not operate 
outside the three-mile limit in the Kattegat, the Sound, and along the 

34 Generalkommando des X Fl. K., Ia, Nr. 10056/40 and 10057/40, loc. cit.; Gen- 
eralkommando X Fl. K., Ia, Nr. 10072/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz der Aufklaerungs- 
staffel (F) 1.122 waehrend der Weseruebung; Nr. 10071/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz 
der l./F 120 am Wesertag; Nr. 10077/40, Befehl fuer den Einsatz der Kuestenfiieger- 
gruppe 506 waehrend der Weseruebung, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. 
l,Anlage54. AOK 20 E 180/9a. 

85 [OKW,WFA], Abt. L, Nr. 22076/40, Vortragsnotiz; Nr. 22074/40; Nr. /40, 
Besondere Anordnungen fuer politische und V erwaltungsmassnahmen bei "Fall 
Weseruebung," in Chefsachen Gruppe IV, Mappe "Weseruebung." OKW/213. 


south coast for the duration of the German operation. Subsequent 
demands, it was thought, might include control of the Swedish overseas 
cable connections and use of the Swedish railroads to transport German 
troops and supplies. 36 Admiral Raeder at one point thought it might 
also be useful to offer Tromso and the northern tip of Norway to the 
Soviet Union, but Hitler did not want the Russians so near. 37 

The diplomatic moves were to be made simultaneously with the troop 
landings in order to preserve the element of surprise and to place the 
Danish and Norwegian Governments under the greatest possible pressure. 
At approximately 0500 on 9 April Dr. Curt Braeuer and Cecil von 
Renthe-Fink, the Ministers in Oslo and Copenhagen, as Plenipoten- 
tiaries of the German Reich would inform the governments of the Ger- 
man action and demand immediate submission. If the terms were ac- 
cepted, the plenipotentiaries would remain to keep the governments 
under surveillance, and deputies would be assigned for the same purpose 
to the ministries. Since Braeuer and Renthe-Fink would have very 
short advance notice of the impending operation, Generalmajor Kurt 
Himer, Chief of Staff, XXXI Corps, and Lt. Col. Hartwig Pohlman, 
Operations Officer, Group XXI, were assigned to advise and assist them 
as Plenipotentiaries of the Wehrmacht. Two days before the operation, 
Himer and Pohlman would proceed to Copenhagen and Oslo in civilian 
clothes, their uniforms going as courier luggage. They were to per- 
form a last-minute reconnaissance and at 2300 on 8 April were to brief 
the Ministers on their part in the forthcoming operation. They also car- 
ried sets of prearranged radio code letters to be used in informing Group 
XXI and the landing parties of the decisions made by the Danish and 
Norwegian Governments. 38 On 3 April the Chief of Staff, OKW, Gen- 
eral Keitel, informed von Ribbentrop that the military occupation of 
Denmark and Norway had been in preparation under orders from Hitler 
for a long time and that the OKW had had ample opportunity to in- 
vestigate all the questions relating to the operation. 39 In effect, all that 
remained for the Foreign Ministry was to execute the OKW plan. 

Z6 [OKW/WFA], Abt,L, Nr. 22076/40, Politische Forderungen an die schwedische 
Regierung, in Chefsachen Gruppe IV, Mappe: "Weseruebung." OKW/213. 
Fuehrer Conferences, I, 1940, p. 21. 

38 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 3596-PS. 

39 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 629-D. 


Chapter 3 
The Landings 


The ships of the Export Echelon were loaded and ready at Hamburg 
on 22 March, and three ships for Narvik departed on W minus 6 days 
(3 April) as did the first ship of the Tanker Echelon. The warship 
groups for Norway loaded at Wesermuende, Cuxhaven, Swinemuende, 
and Wilhelmshaven on the night of W minus 3 days, Groups 1 and 2 
getting under way at midnight that night. By that time most of the 
ships of the 1st Sea Transport Echelon, which had begun to depart at 
0400 on W minus 3 days, were already at sea. The time after which 
the operation could no longer be canceled was set at 1500 on W minus 
3 days. 1 

As the day of the landings approached, the preservation of secrecy 
became increasingly urgent and at the same time more difficult. The 
circle of those who knew about the operation was kept to a minimum. 
An elaborate security system was devised, and troop movements were 
disguised as maneuvers with details left behind in the empty billets to 
carry on all the standard routines. The assembly of large numbers of 
troops and ships at the Baltic and North Sea ports presented a definite 
risk, but the greatest danger came in the interval between the sailing of 
the first ships on W minus 6 days and the landings. The Naval Staff, 
which, it will be remembered, objected to the dispatch of transports 
ahead of the warship groups, believed it would be an extraordinary 
stroke of luck if the transport fleet managed to pass through the en- 
trances to the Kattegat and Skagerrak without incident and without 
giving the enemy warning. 2 

The German luck was to hold. On 2 April the Swedish Minister in 
Berlin attempted to question the German State Secretary in the Foreign 
Ministry concerning rumors of troop and transport concentrations in 
the port of Stettin. That same day the Swedish Naval Attache reported 

1 Verbindungsstab Marine, Nr. 130, Seetransportuebersicht nach dem Stande von 
22.3.40., in Gruppe XXI, la, Anlagenband zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlage 56. AOK 20 E 

2 Gruppe XXI, la, Erfahrungsbericht, in Erfahrungsberichte der Gruppe XXI von 
30.7.40. AOK 20 E 279/15. Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, p. 41. 


he had been told that the Germans had prepared an operation to fore- 
stall a British landing in Norway. On the 4th the Netherlands Military 
Attache received information concerning Weseruebung and Gelb from 
an anti-Nazi German intelligence officer in the OKW. The information 
was passed on to the Danish and Norwegian ministers, but the Danish 
Military Attache thought it might be a plant by the OKW; and neither 
the Danish nor the Norwegian Government was greatly impressed by the 
information. The Norwegian Foreign Minister thought an attack 
unlikely because of British command of the sea. 

On 6 April, although a report reached London through Copenhagen 
that the Germans planned to land a division conveyed in ten ships at 
Narvik on the 8th, the British did not believe that the Germans could 
anticipate British forces so far north. They thought that, at best, the 
Germans might forestall them at Stavanger or possibly involve them in 
a race for Bergen or Trondheim; and the report was evaluated as of 
doubtful value, possibly only a move in the war of nerves. 3 

In Germany, for the period 7 to 9 April, all the foreign military 
attaches were invited to an inspection of the West Wall. On the evening 
of the 5th, Goering invited the diplomatic corps in Berlin to the premiere 
of the motion picture "Baptism of Fire," which showed the destructive 
effects of German aerial bombardment on Polish cities. The picture 
was shown that same evening at the German legation in Oslo.* 

When the Danish Cabinet met on 8 April, the situation had changed. 
British ships had laid mines in Norwegian waters, and in the early 
morning German warships had passed through the Great Belt. The 
passage of the ships apparently was taken to mean that the threat was 
not aimed at Denmark. In the afternoon the Danish General Staff 
received information that a column of German troops fifty to sixty 
miles long was on route between Rendsburg and Flensburg near the 
Danish border. The General Staff wanted to order mobilization; but 
the Cabinet, at a late sitting, influenced by news that the German ships 
had passed the northern tip of Jutland, refused. At 1800 the Cabinet 
decided to take limited action : it declared a state of alarm for southern 
Jutland and a lesser state of readiness for the rest of the country. 5 

On 1 April the Norwegian Minister, in a report to his government, 
had mentioned that Germany might take certain measures to prevent 
British interference with the ore shipments from Narvik, but he believed 
the troop embarkations at Stettin did not concern Norway. Reporting 
on the information obtained through the Netherlands Legation on 4 
April, he thought the operation was probably aimed at the west coast of 
Jutland to secure air and naval bases there. On the 7th, information 
reached Oslo that a fleet of fifteen to twenty transports had left Stettin 

3 International Military Tribunal, Doc. 3955-NG. Hubatsch, op. cit. } pp. 136- 
38. Derry, op. cit., pp. 22, 28. 

4 Hubatsch, op. cit, pp. 138, 151. 
* Ibid., p. 140. 


Mountain troops boarding the cruiser Hipper. 

during the night of 5 April on a westerly course. Not much importance 
was attached to the report; it was assumed that, since nothing further 
had been heard, the ships had gone through the Kiel Canal into the 
North Sea. Early on the 8th the British mining of the West Fiord was 
reported, and at 0700 the French and British Ministers submitted the 
justificatory notes. After that reports came in from Berlin and Copen- 
hagen that German troop transports and warships of all classes were 
at sea on a northerly course. At 1400 the British Admiralty informed 
the Norwegian Minister in London that German ships had been sighted 
in the North Sea on the 7th and off the Norwegian coast early on the 
8th. The Admiralty believed their most likely destination was Narvik, 


and they could be expected to arrive there shortly before midnight on 
the 8th. The report reached Oslo at 1900. During the afternoon the 
ship Rio de Janeiro of the 1st Sea Transport Echelon was sunk off 
Lillesand; and the survivors, many of them in uniform, said they were 
on the way to Bergen to aid the Norwegians. The Norwegian com- 
manding admiral was not convinced that the transports were actually 
intended for Norway. Later in the afternoon a sighting of the warships 
of the Oslo group was reported; yet, by the evening of the 8th the 
Government had not reached a decision to order mobilization. At 
1820 the Norwegian Admiralty Staff ordered increased preparedness 
of the coastal forts, but mines were only to be laid in the fiords on 
further orders. The length of time which passed before the danger 
was taken seriously is indicated by the fact that the chief communications 
officer of the Norwegian Admiralty Staff was a guest of the German Air 
Attache on the night of the 8th and was not called away until 2330. 
At 0100 on the 9th, orders were given to lay mines on the line Rauoy- 
Bolarne in the Oslo Fiord, but the order could not be carried out because 
the German ships had already passed. At 0053 the forts at Rauoy 
and Bolarne reported that they were in action, and at 0158 a blackout 
was ordered in Oslo. The Government, meeting in the foreign ministry, 
at 0230 ordered the mobilization of four divisions and designated 11 
April as the first mobilization day. 6 

After the campaign the German Navy assigned an officer to search 
the records of the Norwegian Admiralty for evidence of collaboration 
with the British. He found none. He concluded that Weseruebung 
had taken the Admiralty Staff completely by surprise and that, as far 
as could be determined, it had received no reports from either Nor- 
wegian or foreign sources informing it of the nature or time of the 
operation. Only two warnings had reached Oslo. The first, on the 
night of 7 April, came from the pilot station at Kopervik where the 
German steamer Skagerrak had anchored with provision cases marked 
"Wehrmacht" aboard. The second, on the afternoon of the 8th, was 
a report that the Rio de Janeiro had had 100 German soldiers aboard. 
Neither aroused any particular concern. 7 This investigation supported 
observations which the German Naval Attache made on the scene. On 
8 April, as he noted in his diary, he at first believed that the sinking of 
the Rio de Janeiro had given the operation away; but later in the day 
he observed "reliable signs" that the Admiralty had not been alerted. 
On the afternoon of the 9th he concluded that neither the Norwegian 
Government nor the Admiralty knew of the impending invasion until 
late on the night of 8 April. He had been in constant contact with 
people who would have known if it had been otherwise. 8 

6 Ibid., pp. 153-57. AOK Norwegen, O. Qu., Qu. 2, Bericht Freg. Kpt. Nieden 
ueber Durchsicht des beim Norwegischen Admiralstab gefundenen Materials. 

7 Ibid. _ 

8 Marineattache Norwegen, Kriegstagebuch, Nov. 39— Mai. 40, 8 and 9 Apr. 40. 


In the German command, tension increased after the departure of 
the warship echelons. The Naval Staff believed, on the 6th, that, al- 
though it could not be expected that the other side was completely in 
the dark about Weseruebung, there were no definite indications of the 
Allies' having discerned the German strategic plan and, at least, there 
was no awareness of the great extent of the operation. Since the Allies 
appeared about to take steps themselves, they would probably expect 
the German action to take the form of a counterblow to their own 
operations. The Naval Staff, nevertheless, believed the greatest haste 
was necessary and thought that 9 April was the latest possible date for 
the landings. On the 8th, intercepted radio messages indicated that the 
British had identified Warship Groups 1 and 2, but it was assumed that 
the Admiralty would probably expect a breakthrough into the Atlantic 
by a pocket battleship rather than draw conclusions regarding 
Weseruebung. 9 

On the morning of the 8th, German Army intelligence reported 
Weseruebung proceeding according to plan, and the impression was 
that the enemy as yet knew nothing. 10 The Naval Staff believed the 
German plans had not yet become known, though it expected the in- 
creased traffic through the entrances to the Baltic to attract attention. 
As the day wore on, tension grew. Early reports disclosed that the ships 
of the Export Echelon were stalled off the Norwegian coast by inability 
to obtain pilots; and later in the day, after news of the sinking of 
the Rio de Janeiro arrived, the Naval Staff believed the element of 
surprise had been lost and engagements were to be expected at all 
points. 11 But events were to prove that the Germans still had the 
advantage of their enemies' indecision. 

Narvik and Trondheim 

At 0300 on 7 April Warship Groups 1 and 2 assembled north of 
Schillig Roads and at 0510 steamed into the North Sea. 12 At 0950 
British reconnaissance aircraft sighted the ships heading north and at 
1330 twelve Blenheim bombers attacked but without success. The 
British reaction was slow. Nearly seven hours had elapsed before 
Admiral Sir Charles Forbes, Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet, 
sailed from Scapa with two battleships, a battle cruiser, two cruisers, and 
ten destroyers. An hour later the 2d Cruiser Squadron (two cruisers 
and eleven destroyers) left Rosyth to join Forbes. Believing the Ger- 
man ships were attempting a breakout into the Atlantic, the British 

9 Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, pp. 40, 50. 

10 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 105. 

11 Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, pp. 60, 6 1 . 

12 Unless otherwise noted, this section is based on the following : Assmann, 
Schicksahjahre, pp. 137—44; Assmann, Campaign in Norway, pp. 19-24; Derry, op. 
cit., pp. 25-33; Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 57-77; and S. W. Roskill, The War at Sea 
1939-1945, Vol. I, The Defensive (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1954), pp. 


forces took a northeasterly course, trailing behind the German warship 
groups — which passed through the Shetlands-Bergen narrows during 
the night — and leaving the central North Sea uncovered. 

During the night the wind increased, making it difficult for the Ger- 
man destroyers to maintain twenty-six knots' speed in the heavy seas and 
creating a constant danger of collision for the ships traveling in close 
formation. By the morning of the 8th the force was badly scattered, 
and contact with several of the destroyers had been lost. At 0900 one of 
the stragglers, the destroyer Berndt von Arnim, met the British destroyer 
Glowworm which had fallen behind the destroyer force assigned to mine 
the approaches to the West Fiord. The Glowworm engaged the von 
Arnim in a running fight that lasted until 1024 when the Glowworm 
sank after ramming the Hipper, which had been ordered back to aid the 
von Arnim. The encounter with the Glowworm took place at about the 
latitude of Trondheim, and shortly thereafter the Hipper with its four 
destroyers, was detached to carry out its mission at Trondheim. The 
Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst stayed with the remaining ten destroyers 
about halfway to the West Fiord and then veered off northwestward to 
provide offshore cover. At 2 1 00, in a heavy gale and with visibility poor, 
the destroyers reached the mouth of the West Fiord. 

On 8 April it began to appear to the British that the Germans had an 
operation under way against Norway after all; still, the Home Fleet 
continued to steam northward throughout the day, leaving the way clear 
for other German warship groups moving up from the south. The battle 
cruiser Renown, which after escorting the minelaying force to the West 
Fiord was standing off the Lofotens, was ordered to set a course to head 
off German ships approaching Narvik. At the same time, the destroyers 
patrolling the minefield in the West Fiord were ordered to leave their 
stations and join the Renown, a move which resulted in leaving the 
entrance to the West Fiord unguarded. At 1430 a British flying boat 
sighted the Hipper and its destroyers on a westerly course. The Hipper 
was merely maneuvering until the time for the run in to Trondheim, but 
the information confused Admiral Forbes who altered course from north- 
east to north and then to northwest in an effort to intercept. By evening 
Forbes had decided that the force ahead of him was moving to Narvik 
while other strong German forces were probably at sea to the south in 
the Kattegat and Skagerrak. He sent a battle cruiser, a cruiser, and 
several destroyers north to assist the Renown, and he himself turned 
south with the main force at 2000. 

High winds and heavy seas impeded the movement of the ships of 
both sides throughout the night of the 8th. The Gneisenau and the 
Scharnhorst had to reduce speed to seven knots. At dawn on the 9th 
off the Lofotens the Gneisenau's radar picked up a ship to the west 
which was shortly afterward revealed to be the Renown. The ships 
opened fire at about 0500, and almost immediately hits wrecked the 


artillery control system of the Gneisenau and put her forward turret out 
of action. The Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst atttempted to break off 
the action at 0528, but sporadic contact was maintained until 0700, as 
the Renown undertook a pursuit through heavy seas and rain squalls. 
The Germans missed a good chance to destroy the battle cruiser, which 
was supported only by eight destroyers unable to maintain high speed 
in the rough water. Gun flashes from the destroyers misled the German 
commander into believing other heavy ships were present. 

At 2200 on the 8th nine destroyers of the Narvik group stood off the 
southern tip of the Lofotens. The Erich Giese had fallen about three 
hours behind. Shortly before midnight, as the ships passed into the lee 
of the Lofotens, the sea became more calm, and at 0400 the destroyers 
passed Baroy at the mouth of the Ofot Fiord where one remained 
behind on picket duty. Forty minutes later two more destroyers stopped 
to land assault groups for the capture of the supposed coastal forts at 
Ramnes and Havnes. At the head of the fiord, three destroyers were 
dispatched to land troops which were to take the Norwegian Army 
depot at Elvegaardsmoen on the Herjangs Fiord (eight miles north of 
Narvik), while the remaining three proceeded to Narvik. The latter, 
approaching Narvik, encountered the Norwegian coastal defense ship 
Eidsvold, which refused to surrender and was sunk by a torpedo salvo. 
In the harbor the Berndt von Arnim was fired on by the Norge, a sister 
ship of the Eidsvold, which was then also sunk in a torpedo attack. 

The landings were accomplished without further incidents. Seasick- 
ness had been a problem throughout the voyage, but the few hours of 
quiet sailing before landing had given the troops time to recover. At 
Elvegaardsmoen the Norwegian troops were taken completely by sur- 
prise, and substantial stocks of supplies, which were later to prove ex- 
tremely useful, were captured. At Narvik, Generalmajor Eduard Dietl, 
Commanding General, 3d Mountain Division, went ashore with the 
first troops and, at a meeting with the colonel commanding the troops 
in the city, demanded an immediate surrender. The commandant, who 
apparently was pro-German — Quisling had claimed him as one of his 
supporters — but who also was in no position to conduct a successful 
defense, complied. At 0810 Dietl reported that Narvik was in German 
hands. In the confusion immediately following the landing, a major, 
with 250 Norwegian troops, managed to withdraw eastward unnoticed. 13 

Despite the successful occupation of the city, the German position 
was precarious. Of the few guns and mortars which could be carried 
on the destroyers, a number were lost during the stormy passage. More 
serious still, the ships in the Export Echelon failed to arrive. On the 
morning of 9 April only the tanker Jan Wellem was in port at Narvik : it 

M 3. Geb. Div., Ia, K.T.B. Narvik, 6.4.40-10.6.40, pp. 2, 3. 3. Geb. Div. W 1689/ 
a,b. Gerda-Luise Dietl and Kurt Herrmann, General Dietl (Munich: Muenchner 
Buchverlag, 1 95 1 ) , pp. 60-68. 


had sailed from the German base on the Russian Arctic coast. Of the 
remaining four ships one was forced to put in at Bergen, and the other 
three were sunk or had to be scuttled to avoid capture. The almost 
total loss of Dietl's equipment and supplies was to have fateful conse- 
quences for the destroyers since they had arrived at Narvik with their 
fuel bunkers nearly empty. A further element of danger became known 
in the evening when the two companies which landed to take the forts at 
Ramnes and Havnes arrived in Narvik and reported that no forts 
existed, only a few partly completed blockhouses. The Germans had 
counted on using the forts for defense against a British attack from the 
sea. 14 

Warship Group 2, after standing off the Norwegian coast throughout 
the day of the 8th, at 0030 on the 9th steamed in toward Trondheim 
at high speed. A picket boat signaled to the ships once but took no 
further action. At 0400, with the Hipper leading, they turned into the 
inner fiord and passed the searchlight batteries of the Brettingnes forts at 
25 knots. The Hipper had already gone by Hysnes, farther up the 
fiord, when the battery there opened fire on the destroyers. One salvo 
from the Hipper's guns threw up clouds of smoke and dust which 
spoiled the aim of the shore guns, and with that the danger zone was 
passed. Three destroyers stayed behind to land troops for the assault 
on the forts while the Hipper and the remaining destroyer proceeded 
to Trondheim, anchoring there at 0525. 

The troops encountered no resistance in the city, and the regimental 
commander quickly secured the cooperation of the local authorities 
although it was not possible to prevent numbers of men from leaving 
the city in response to their mobilization orders. As at Narvik, the 
ships of the Export Echelon were not on hand. During the day, four- 
teen float planes of the coastal reconnaissance group ( Kuestenflieger- 
gruppe 506 ) landed in the harbor. Most of them were damaged during 
the landing, and in any case they could not be put into operation for 
lack of gasoline. By nightfall the city had been secured, but the bat- 
teries at Brettingnes, Hysnes, and Agdenes and the airfield at Vaernes 
still were in Norwegian hands. 

Bergen, Stavanger, Egersund, Kristiansand, and Arendal 

The Koeln, the Koenigsberg, and the Bremse of Group 3 (Bergen) 
left Wilhelmshaven at 0040 on 8 April. 15 The advance of Group 3 
was expected to be particularly dangerous since Bergen, which could be 
reached from Scapa in eight to nine hours sailing time, was the most 
likely first objective of a British counterattack. At 1700 Group 3 came 
within sixty miles of a British force of two cruisers and fifteen destroyers, 

14 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., p. 3. 

15 Unless otherwise noted this section is based on Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 79—86 ; 
Assmann, Schicksalsjahre, pp. 144—46; and Assmann, Campaign in Norway, pp. 29—32. 


but at that time the British forces were still all steering northward. 

At 0040 on the 9th the formation set an easterly course for the ap- 
proach to Kors Fiord. The night was clear, and the Norwegian coastal 
lights were extinguished. Passing up the fiord the ships replied to 
signals from patrol vessels in English. Reaching the entrance to By 
Fiord at 0430, the group stopped to disembark troops for the assault on 
the batteries at Kvarven which commanded the passage through the 
fiord; but the ships, in order to arrive at Bergen on time, proceeded 
without waiting for the capture of the batteries. At 0515, as the for- 
mation passed, the batteries opened fire, hitting the once and the 
Koenigsberg three times before they passed out of range. By 0620 
the troops had disembarked, and Bergen was occupied with only slight 
resistance in the city. At 0700 four German bombers appeared. 
Shortly afterward the battery at Sandviken fired on the Koeln lying at 
anchor, and antiaircraft guns fired on the aircraft; but, when the Koeln 
and the Koenigsberg returned the fire and the aircraft dropped bombs, 
the forts ceased fire. At 0930 the Kvarven and Sandviken batteries 
were in German hands. The task of Group 3 was completed by 1100; 
but the captured batteries were not yet ready for action ; and the Koenigs- 
berg, damaged by the fire from the batteries at Kvarven, was not 
fit to put to sea. During the day, three German seaplane transports 
arrived bringing troops, and at 1930 twelve British bombers attacked 
the ships but failed to score any hits. 16 

After a dive-bombing attack and the landing of a company of para- 
chute troops, two infantry battalions brought in by air occupied Sta- 
vanger. The airfield at Sola, the best in Norway, was quickly taken. 
The ship of the Export Echelon intended for Stavanger was sunk out- 
side the port, but the three ships of the 1st Sea Transport Echelon 
arrived on time during the morning bringing troop reinforcements, 
supplies, and equipment. The minesweepers and troops of Group 6 
took Egersund without trouble. 

The ships of Group 4 (destined for Kristiansand and Arendal) began 
leaving Wesermuende at 0500 on 8 April, traveling in three separate 
formations adjusted to the speeds of the various units. When the group 
assembled at 0030 on the 9th the torpedo boat Greif with its troops had 
already set a course for Arendal, where it accomplished the landing 
without resistance but was delayed by fog until 0900. At 0345 Group 
4 lay outside the fiord at Kristiansand, but could not attempt an en- 
trance because of heavy fog. At 0600, when visibility improved, the 
moment of surprise had been lost, and a Norwegian aircraft had sighted 
the ships. Twenty minutes later the formation attempted to enter the 
fiord but was forced to retire under the cover of smoke after encounter- 
ing fire from the batteries at Odderoy. It undertook a second ap- 

"Gruppe XXI, la, Durchschlaege von Abschriften eines Teils der Anlagen zum 
K.T.B. 2-3, 9.4.40-10.5.40. AOK 20 E 288/1. 


Map 2 

proach at 0655 after five German planes had bombed the batteries at 
Odderoy and Gleodden. The attempt failed, and the ships again had 
to withdraw under the cover of smoke. Both times the ships had ap- 
proached in line, which meant that only the forward turrets of the 
Karlsruhe could be brought to bear. At 0750 a different approach 


was ordered, with the torpedo boats entering under the cover of broad- 
side fire from the Karlsruhe. That attempt had to be canceled because 
of fog. Trying to break through alone at 0930, the Karlsruhe nearly 
ran aground in the fog. In the meantime air support had been re- 
quested, and after 0930 a bomber group began to attack the forts. At 
1100, after visibility had improved, the forts had ceased fire and the 
ships were able to enter Kristiansand without further resistance. The 
batteries were occupied before noon, and the city was secured in the 
afternoon. Three ships of the 1st Sea Transport Echelon arrived with 
troops and supplies in the afternoon. 


Group 5 loaded at Swinemuende and assembled on the evening of 
7 April in Kiel Bay. 17 At 0300 the following morning the formation 
passed northward through the Great Belt and by 1900 had reached the 
latitude of Skagen at the tip of the Jutland Peninsula. Shortly after 
midnight it approached the entrance to the Oslo Fiord where the Nor- 
wegian patrol boat Pol HI, an armed whaler, raised the alarm before 
being sunk by gunfire from one of the torpedo boats. Farther in, the 
island forts at Rauoy and Bolarne turned on their searchlights and at- 
tempted to engage the German ships, but without success because of 
fog. After dispatching several of the smaller vessels to land troops for 
the capture of the forts and the Norwegian naval base at Horten, the 
formation advanced up the fiord. At 0440 the ships had reached the 
narrows at Drobak, about ten miles from Oslo, with the Bluecher in the 
lead, and approached the Oscarsborg fort at twelve knots in a heavy haze 
which reduced visibility. Since no activity could be observed in the 
direction of the fort (its searchlights could not be operated because the 
boilers of the steam generators were being cleaned), the group com- 
mander apparently assumed there would be no further resistance and 
a rapid advance to Oslo would be possible. When the Bluecher came 
within range, the 280-mm. guns at Oscarsborg opened fire, as did the 
batteries at Kaholm and Drobak. The first hits caused severe damage, 
starting fires and putting the steering gear out of action ; and as the ship, 
steering with her engines, passed Kaholm she was struck by two tor- 
pedoes from the battery there. Within three or four minutes the 
Bluecher had passed out of range, but the fires could not be brought 
under control, and an explosion in one of the magazines sealed her fate. 
At 0700 the commanding officer ordered the ship abandoned. A half 
hour later she capsized and sank. It was ironical that Germany's newest 
heavy cruiser was sunk by the guns (Krupp model 1905) of a fort built 
during the Crimean War and torpedoes manufactured at the turn of the 

17 Unless otherwise noted this section is based on Assmann, Campaign in Norway, 
pp. 33-35; Deny, op. cit., pp. 35, 36; and Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 86-93. 


JU 52 transports, Fornebu Airfield, 9 April 194-0. 

century by an Austrian firm in Fiume. ,s The sinking entailed a heavy 
loss of men, including most of the staff of the 163d Infantry Division. 

After the loss of the Blue c her command of Group 5 passed to the 
commanding officer of the Luetzow, who withdrew the rest of the ships 
and decided to land troops at Sonsbukten for an attack on the defenses 
at Drbbak from land and from the sea. During the day waves of 
bombers and dive bombers attacked the outer forts and Horten, which 
also continued to offer resistance. Drobak was occupied at 1900, but 
negotiations for the surrender of Kaholm were protracted until the 
morning of 10 April when the ships were able to pass through the 
narrows, reaching Oslo at 1145. 

In Oslo on the morning of the 9th heavy fog and antiaircraft artillery 
fire delayed the planned landing of parachute and airborne troops. 
It was only after bombers had been committed that the first infantry 
assault troops could land. At 0838, more than three hours after the 
planned time, the transports began to land. Even then sheer luck was 
all that made the landings possible. Because of fog, the X Air Corps 
had ordered all the planes to land at Aalborg in Denmark. Those 
carrying parachute troops had turned back, but the first transport group 
carrying elements of one infantry battalion had ignored the order because 
it was subordinate to the Transport Chief (Land ) , not the X Air Corps. 
About noon, five additional companies of infantry were brought in 
followed by two parachute companies. With these forces Oslo was 
occupied. 10 

" Gruppe XXI, la, "UeberseUung: Die Seesehtacki van Osearsburg am 9.4.1940 
Unterredung mit dem norweg, Lt. Bonsak,' f in Bluecker Erlebnuberickte. AOK 20 
E 279/2. 

'"Oberst a. D. Greffrath, "Det Norwegen-Fetdzug 1940." USAF Historical 
Division, Wiesbaden. 


The Return of the Warships 

Throughout the night of 8 April the British main force steamed south, 
reaching a point somewhat below the latitude of Bergen on the morning 
of the 9th. 20 By that time reports were coming in of enemy landings at 
Norwegian ports. At 1130 Forbes detached four cruisers and seven 
destroyers to attack the German ships at Bergen, but the Admiralty 
canceled the attack in the belief that the coastal forts were already in 
German hands. At noon Forbes turned north again, coming under 
heavy German air attack during the afternoon. The display of German 
air superiority led Forbes to the conclusion that the southern area would 
have to be left to submarines and land-based aircraft. Joined early on 
the 10th by the aircraft carrier Furious, Forbes continued northward 
intending to launch an air attack on Trondheim. 

Meanwhile, the British 2d Destroyer Flotilla (five destroyers), which 
had been part of the minelaying force for Narvik, entered the West Fiord 
at 1600 on the 9th. The following morning, at dawn in a snow storm, 
taking five German destroyers by surprise in the harbor at Narvik, it 
sank two and damaged the rest. Passing out of the Ofot Fiord the 2d 
Destroyer Flotilla was itself attacked by five German destroyers which 
had been anchored in the Herjangs and Ballangen Fiords. In the 
ensuing action one British destroyer was sunk, one beached, and one 
badly damaged. 

The German destroyers had been unable to leave on the night of the 
9th as had been planned because of delays in refueling; and the dawn 
attack was a complete surprise to the German force, since, owing to un- 
clear orders, the destroyer on patrol had left its post shortly before the 
British destroyers arrived. Apparently, too, the German commander 
relied heavily on the four submarines posted in the fiord. The sub- 
marines, however, were unable to operate effectively because of poor 
visibility and torpedo failures. The incidence of torpedo failures was 
to hamper German submarine operations severely throughout the Nor- 
wegian campaign. It was believed that magnetic conditions in the Nor- 
wegian area affected the magnetic fuses, but the conventional torpedoes 
scarcely functioned better. 

At 2200 on 10 April the Hipper left Trondheim accompanied by one 
destroyer which later had to turn back because of heavy seas. During 
the night the Hipper narrowly missed the force of Admiral Forbes, who 
was advancing for the air attack on Trondheim, an attack that eighteen 
torpedo bombers carried out the next morning without success. The 
Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau had continued northwestward after the 
encounter with the Renown until, on the 10th in the vicinity of Jan 
Mayen Island, they altered course southward for the return to their 

20 Unless otherwise noted this section is based on Assmann, Campaign in Norway, 
pp. 37-48; Hubatsch, op. cit., Derry, op. cit., pp. 43—53; and Roskill, op. cit., 
pp. 171-78. 


home base. Knowing from intercepted radio traffic that the British 
forces were concentrating in the zone from Trondheim to the Lofotens 
they executed a sweeping arc to the west, passing close to the Shetland 
Islands during the night of the 11th. At 0830 on the 12th they made 
contact with the Hipper, and at 2000 the ships entered the Jade docking 
at Wilhelmshaven. Two of the destroyers returned from Trondheim 
on 1 4 April, one on 1 May, and the last on 1 June. 

After the attack on Trondheim failed, Admiral Forbes continued 
northward and arrived off the Lofotens during the afternoon of 1 2 April 
to cover and support the attack on the enemy ships at Narvik with air- 
craft from the Furious. On orders from the Admiralty the battleship 
Warspite and nine destroyers were committed in the final attack. Early 
on the morning of the 13th the formation advanced up the West Fiord. 
The first success was obtained by the Warspite' 's reconnaissance plane, 
which bombed and sank a German submarine while scouting ahead of 
the force. Two German destroyers stationed halfway up the Ofot Fiord 
gave a warning of the British approach. One of them was sunk where 
it lay at anchor. It had been damaged in the battle on 10 April and 
was being used as a floating gun and torpedo battery. The other 
escaped toward Narvik ahead of the British ships. It and the remaining 
six destroyers of the German flotilla engaged the British from 1300 to 
1400 just outside the Narvik harbor and then, having exhausted their 
ammunition, retired into the Rombaks and Herjangs Fiords where some 
were beached and others sunk. The ten lost destroyers comprised half 
the total destroyer strength of the German Navy, but most of the crews 
were saved and formed a valuable reinforcement for General Dietl's 
small force in Narvik. 

The return of the ships from the southern ports was carried out with 
varying degrees of success. At Bergen the Koenigsberg and the, 
damaged during the landings, were not fit to put to sea on the 9th, and 
the Karl Peters, with the motor torpedo boats, was to remain behind 
according to plan. The Koeln, with an escort of two torpedo boats, 
setting out on the night of the 9th, was sighted by British planes, but, 
after taking cover in a small fiord until the following day, was able 
to proceed, arriving safely at Wilhelmshaven at 1700 on the 1 1th. On 
the 10th, when British land-based bombers attacked Bergen, the Koenigs- 
berg received two direct hits, capsized, and sank. The Karlsruhe, leav- 
ing Kristiansand with three torpedo boats on the night of the 9th, was 
torpedoed just outside the harbor and later had to be sunk by her own 
escorts. At Oslo the military situation did not permit the return of all 
the warships, and only the Luetzow, still scheduled for a raiding mission 
in the Atlantic, was ordered to return at once. The Luetzow put out 
from Horten on the evening of the 10th. Early the following morning, 
while traveling at high speed off the Swedish coast, the Luetzow was hit 


by a torpedo from a British submarine which blew off both screws and 
the rudder, and the ship had to be towed to Kiel. 

The cost to the German Navy of the Norwegian operation ran high. 
It lost one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers, ten destroyers, and had 
three other cruisers damaged. In addition, the gunnery training ship 
Brummer was sunk on 15 April while on convoy duty. Part of this 
loss could be credited to the fact that the British had stationed sixteen 
submarines along the German approach routes through the Skagerrak 
and Kattegat during their own preparation for Wilfred and Plan R 4, 

Supply and Troop Transport 

Of the seven ships in the Export Echelon, none arrived on time; four 
were sunk; one was captured; one of those for Narvik put in at Bergen 
on 1 1 April where British aircraft sank it while unloading ; and one 
arrived at Trondheim on 13 April. 21 Of the four tankers for Narvik 
and Trondheim, one, the Jan Wellem (Narvik), reached port, and 
three were sunk. The loss, as has been seen, proved serious for the 
warships at those ports. The Hipper, forced to start the trip back 
without refueling, arrived at Wilhelmshaven with only enough fuel 
for two and one half hours' steaming. The four tankers for Oslo, 
Stavanger, and Bergen reached port on time. 

The 1st Sea Transport Echelon (15 ships), its ships traveling singly, 
lost three ships. Another was torpedoed but could be taken in tow. 
The 2d Sea Transport Echelon (11 ships), traveling in convoy, lost 
two ships; and the 3d Transport Echelon lost one. The remaining five 
echelons made their runs without losses; but the submarine menace 
continued; and German antisubmarine measures, particularly during 
the first few weeks, proved singularly ineffective. 22 After the sinking 
of two ships in the 2d Sea Transport Echelon, which resulted in a loss 
of 900 troops, the Naval Staff ordered that troops were no longer to 
be carried on slow transports but only on fast small vessels or warships. 
Thenceforth the troops were routed to Frederikshaven on Jutland and 
from there taken to south Norwegian ports in small ships. After a 
while, the number of troops transported by this means was stepped up 
to 3,000 a day, and in the period from the middle of April to the middle 
of June 42,000 men were transported without losses. A similar ar- 
rangement was made for the transportation of provisions, ammunition, 
and equipment from Skagen to southern Norway in small boats in order 
to relieve the pressure on the transports. From the beginning of the 
Norwegian campaign to 15 June 1940 a total of 270 ships and 100 
trawlers (excluding warships) carried 107,581 officers and men, 16,102 
horses, 20,339 vehicles, and 109,400 tons of supplies. Twenty-one 
ships were lost. 

21 Unless otherwise noted this section is based on Assmann, Campaign in Norway, 
pp. 48-51 and Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 129-34. 

22 Naval War Diary, Vol. 8, p. 142. 


After it became known that the Export Echelon was a failure, Hitler 
on 10 April ordered that the use of submarines as transports be investi- 
gated. Between 12 and 16 April three submarines, each carrying 
about fifty tons of ammunition and supplies, were dispatched to Narvik 
but, because of the uncertainty of the situation in the north, were re- 
routed to Trondheim. On 27 April another three boats were sent to 
Trondheim with aviation gasoline and aerial bombs. During the 
Norwegian operation the submarines carried out a total of eight 
transport missions. 

The Air Force also played an important role in the movement of 
troops and materiel to Norway, especially in the crucial early weeks of 
the operation. In 582 transport aircraft, 21 battalions, 9 division and 
regimental staffs, and a number of mountain artillery batteries were 
moved, plus naval personnel and equipment and air force ground 
personnel and equipment. It was estimated that the air transport 
units flew 13,018 missions, carrying a total of 29,280 men and 2,376 
tons of supplies. 23 

Diplomatic and Political Moves 

Arriving at the foreign ministry shortly after 0500 on 9 April, the 
German Minister found the Norwegian Foreign Minister waiting for 
him. The Cabinet had been in session at the Foreign Ministry through- 
out the night, and the German demands were quickly presented and 
as quickly rejected. At 0550 Pohlman, the Military Plenipotentiary, 
reported to Group XXI that the Norwegian Government had de- 
clared, "We will not submit. The battle is already in progress." 24 An 
hour and a half later he telegraphed that there were still no warships 
at Oslo and no aircraft over the city. 25 While Braeuer and Pohlman 
awaited the arrival of their troops, the Norwegian royal family, the 
Cabinet, and most of the members of Parliament were able to leave the 
capital in a special train which took them to Hamar 70 miles inland. 
Later in the day the Government moved to Elverum, 50 miles from the 
Swedish border, where, during the night, German parachute troops 
made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the king. 26 

The departure of the government left the capital in a state of con- 
fusion, and the civilian population began to evacuate the city. Shortly 
after noon Braeuer issued an appeal to the government to stop the resist- 
ance and attempted through radio broadcasts to bring the evacuation to 
a halt. 27 The most serious consequence of the government's leaving 

23 Oberst a.D. Greffrath, "Der Norwegen-Feldzug 1940." Hubatsch, op. cit., p. 378. 

24 Pohlman/Braeuer, Nr. 487 an das Auswaertige Amt, An Gruppe XXI, 9. April, 
in Gruppe XXI, Doppelstuecke, Durchschlaege von Abschriften eines Teiles der 
Anlagen zum Ktb. 2-3. AOK 20 E 288/1. 

25 Pohlman/Braeuer, Nr. 490, 9. April, 0720, An Auswaertiges Amt fuer Gruppe 
XXI, in Gruppe XXI, Doppelstuecke, loc. cit. 

26 Derry, op. cit., p. 37. 

27 Telefonische Meldung des Deutschen Gesandten in Oslo an das Ministerbuero 
von 15.10 Uhr bis 15.30 Uhr, 9. April 1940, in Gruppe XXI, Doppelstuecke, loc. cit. 


was that it gave Quisling a chance to come forward with a cabinet of 
his own, which he did promptly on 9 April. The question of what to 
do with Quisling had not been decided in advance. The Germans 
knew that he had no popular support; and, in any event, the principal 
objective of Group XXI was to achieve a peaceful settlement with the 
existing Norwegian Government as quickly as possible. But once he 
had managed to appear on the scene, he received the backing of Rosen- 
berg and Hitler, and thereafter the negotiations included a demand that 
the king accept a government under Quisling. 

On the afternoon of the 9th the Norwegian Government agreed to 
reopen negotiations, and the king received Braeuer on the following 
day. Braeuer believed there was a strong desire to reach a settlement, 
but the king refused to permit Quisling to form a government. Later 
the Foreign Minister informed Braeuer that the resistance would con- 
tinue "as far as possible." 28 After a German air attack on 1 1 April 
the Royal Headquarters was moved north and, in the course of April, 
was transferred to Tromso. Braeuer made several further attempts 
through intermediaries to reopen conversations. On the 14th, through 
the Bishop of Oslo, he stated his willingness to drop Quisling; but the 
Norwegian Foreign Minister, by then convinced that a successful Allied 
counterattack would be launched, refused to enter into negotiations. 29 
Several days later Braeuer, who had been saddled with most of the 
blame for the failure of the negotiations, was recalled. Admiral Raeder, 
for one, believed that a more determined and energetic man would have 
taken immediate steps to arrest the government at any cost. 30 Hitler 
had, in fact, ordered on 2 April that the kings of Norway and Denmark 
were under no circumstances to be permitted to leave their countries and 
were to be placed under guard in their residences; but it is difficult to 
imagine how Braeuer could have arrested the government with the 
forces at his disposal on the morning of 9 April. 31 

That Quisling, who was regarded as a traitor, could not form a viable 
government was apparent immediately. Braeuer reported that the ris- 
ing unrest in the occupied areas could be traced less to the German 
occupation than to general opposition to Quisling. As a consequence, 
in an attempt to establish some sort of governing authority without 
completely abandoning Quisling, the so-called Administrative Council 
was formed on 1 5 April. It came into being as a result of negotiations 
between Braeuer and the Chief Justice of the Norwegian Supreme 
Court, Paal Berg. Consisting of men prominent in business and public 
affairs, it was to take charge of internal administration of the occupied 

28 Telephonischer Bericht vom Gesandten Braeuer, Olso an das Buero des Reichs- 
aussenministers, 10. April 1940, 2230 Uhr, in Gruppe XXI, Doppelstuecke, loc. cit. 
19 Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 162-64. 
30 Fuehrer Conferences, p. 42. 

3l OKW, WFA, Abt. L, Nr. 22125/40, Betr., Besetzung von Daenemark und 
Norwegen, in Gruppe XXI, la, Anlagenband 1 zum Ktb. Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52, 
20.2-8.2.1940. AOK 20 E 180/7. 


Bandsmen emplaning lor Oslo, 9 April 194-0. 

areas, but it did not constitute a government and did not regard itself 
as such. Quisling, not included in the Administrative Council, was 
assigned a post as commissioner for demobilization. His puppet gov- 
ernment thus terminated after an existence of less than a week. 3 * 

On 19 April Hitler informed Falkenhorst that a state of war existed 
between Norway and Germany and that the Administrative Council 
had no political rights or authority. He gave Falkenhorst full authority 
to take all the measures necessary for the rapid conquest and pacification 
of the country. Severity was recommended.'"' On the same day Hider 
appointed Joseph Terboven, an old-line Nazi Party official, as Reichs- 
kommissar for the Occupied Norwegian Territories and in a decree 
of 24 April gave him the supreme governmental power in the civilian 
sector. 34 The latter decision ran directly counter to the accepted Ger- 

Bracuer, Fernschreiben nach Berlin fuer Reichsminhter [draft telegram], 14 
April, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 3 zum K.T.B. Nr. 2.U.3., 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 
20 E 279/3. Halvdan Koht, Norway Neutral and Invaded (New York, 1941 ), 
pp. 131 fT. U.S. Department of State, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 19! 8- 
1945 (Washington, 1956), Series D, Vol. IX, pp. 161, 168-72, and 195-97. 

™Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befekhkaber der Wehrmackt, OKW : Nr. 104/40, 
1 9.4.40, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 4 zum K.T.B. Nr. 2.U.3., 19.4.40-23 A. 40. 
AOK 20 E 279/4. 

Sl Between the dismissal of Braeuer and the appointment of Terboven Gauleiter 
Alfred Frauenfeld held the position of Reich Plenipotentiary for a few days. After 
a quick look at the confused situation in Norway, Frauenfeld decided to return to 
tin- quiet of his German Gau. 


man doctrine that, in a zone of operations, the commanding general 
of an army exercised the executive power as long as operations were in 
progress ; and it paved the way for an endless series of disputes between 
the German military and civilian authorities in Norway. 

The Occupation of Denmark 

The operations of the XXXI Corps in Denmark were destined to 
go entirely according to plan. Moving up from their assembly areas 
in north Germany the i ith Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 170th In- 
fantry Division bivouacked during the night of 8 April along the road 
Schleswig-Flensburg. Elements of the ig8th Division transferred to 
Warnemuende, Travemuende, and Kiel so that they could begin em- 
barkation on the night of 7 April. 35 

At 0515 on the morning of the 9th, the 1 1th Motorized Rifle Brigade 
and the 1 70th Infantry Division crossed the border on a broad front with 
the weight of the attack directed northward from Tondern and Flens- 
burg. The weak Danish forces at the border were not capable of stag- 
ing serious resistance, and German tanks quickly broke the few pockets 
of resistance which developed. To prevent the destruction of bridges 
near the border, special small units had been sent in before W Hour. At 
0730 a parachute platoon and a battalion of the 69th Infantry Division 
transported by air took possession of the airfields at Aalborg. By 0800 
the Danish Army had halted its resistance, and German forces were able 
to advance northward unimpeded, with elements of the 11th Motorized 
Rifle Brigade reaching Aalborg during the course of the day. At 1 1 00 
Group 10, composed mostly of minesweepers, put in at Esbjerg to be 
followed the next morning by Group 1 1 , which landed at Tyboron. The 
Danish railways were taken over intact, with the result that rail contact 
with Aalborg could be established on the 9th. 36 

The ships of Group 7 loaded at Kiel. The staff of the 198th Infantry 
Division and a reinforced infantry battalion were embarked aboard the 
Schleswig-Holstein and two merchant steamers for the landing at Kor- 
sor, while a torpedo boat and two minesweepers took aboard the com- 
pany for Nyborg. Before dawn on the morning of the 9th, as the forma- 
tion passed through the Great Belt, the Schleswig-Holstein ran aground 
and had to be left behind. The landings were accomplished without 
opposition, and beachheads were quickly established. The force at Kor- 
sor was increased during the morning when merchant ships brought in 

35 Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 93ff. 

38 Befehlshaber der deutschen Truppen in Daenemark (Hoeheres Kommando 
XXXI), la, Nr. 279/40, Bericht ueber die Besetzung Daenemarks am 9. und 10.4.40, 
und die dabei gemachten Erfahrungen, in Befehlshaber der deutschen Truppen in 
Daenemark, Besetzung Daenemarks am 9. u. 10.4.40, Abt. Ia und Ic. XXXI AK E 
290/2. Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 94, 96. 


a reinforced infantry regiment; by 1300, elements had crossed Sjaelland 
and were in Copenhagen. On the west coast of Fuenen, Group 9 (a 
merchant steamer and a number of small craft) had landed a battalion 
at Middelfart at 0630 to secure the bridge across the Little Belt. Farther 
south a battalion crossed from Warnemuende to Gedser aboard two train 
ferries and advanced northward across Falster to Vordingborg where, 
with the assistance of a parachute company, it had established a secure 
bridgehead by 0730. On the afternoon of the 9th XXXI Corps ordered 
the occupation of Bornholm off the Swedish south coast — an operation 
which was carried out by one battalion on the following day. 37 

The mission of Group 8, consisting of the motorship Hansestadt 
Danzig carrying an infantry battalion and escorted by an icebreaker 
and two picket boats, was predominantly political and psychological. 
Hitler had ordered the landing of a "representative" force at Copen- 
hagen to give emphasis to the diplomatic negotiations. Falkenhorst 
proposed having the battalion march into the city to the accompaniment 
of band music ; but Kaupisch decided, instead, to stage an assault on the 
Citadel, the old fortress overlooking the harbor, and take the guards 
regiment quartered there prisoner. 38 On 4 April the major in command 
of the landing force had traveled to Copenhagen in civilian clothes, 
where he scouted the landing possibilities and was shown through the 
Citadel by a Danish sergeant. The landing, on 9 April, was accom- 
plished without a hitch. The fort at the entrance to the harbor brought 
the ships under its searchlights but could not fire even a warning shot 
because of grease in the gun barrels. At 0735 the German commander 
reported the Citadel occupied without resistance. 39 

At 2300 on 8 April Minister von Renthe-Fink received his instruc- 
tions from General Himer who had arrived in Copenhagen in civilian 
clothes on the 7th accompanied by a legation secretary from the Foreign 
Ministry. In coded messages to the XXXI Corps, Himer on the 8th 
reported the harbor ice-free and confirmed the fact that the weak point 
of the Citadel was at its southeast corner. On the morning of the 9th, 
for an hour after the landing, he was able to keep open a direct telephone 
connection to the headquarters of the XXXI Corps at Hamburg and 
give a running account of the capture of the Citadel and the progress 
of negotiations. The Danish Government capitulated at 0720, after 
Himer, to speed up the deliberations of the Ministerial Council, had 

37 198. Inf. Div., Abt. Ia, Bericht ueber die Besetzung der daenischen Inseln 
Seeland, Fuenen, Falster und Bornholm durch die 198. Inf. Division am 9. und 
10.4.40; Infanterie Regiment 308, Bericht ueber die Unternehmung der Abteilung 
Oberstleutnant Schultz gegen Seeland/Daenemark, in Hoeh. Kdo. z.b.V. XXXI, 
Sammelakte ueber die Besetzung Daenemarks, 9.4.-31.4.1940. XXXI AK E 290/1. 

38 Unternehmen Daenemark (am 9. April 1940), in Hoeh. Kdo. z.b.V., Sammelakte, 
loc. cit. 

39 Major Glein, Kommandeur I./I.R. 308, Bericht ueber die Landung in Kopen- 
hagen und Besetzung der dortigen Zitadelle am 9.4.40, in Hoeh. Kdo. z.b.V., XXXI, 
Sammelakte, loc. cit. Hubatsch, op. cit., p. 98. 


Map 3 

told Renthe-Fink to inform it that, unless an immediate decision were 
forthcoming, Copenhagen would be bombed. Later in the day Himer 
requested an audience with the king in order to ascertain his attitude and 
to be able if necessary to prevent his leaving the country. At 1000, nego- 
tiations regarding demobilization of the Danish armed forces began. 40 

40 Befehlshaber der Deutschen Truppen in Daenemark (Hoeheres Kommando 
XXXI), la Nr. 279/40, Anlage 2, Die diplomatische Aktion am 9.4.1940, in Befehl- 
shaber der deutschen Truppen in Daenemark, loc. cit. 


Chapter 4 

Operations in Southern and Central Norway 

The Command Crisis 

By the fourth day Operation Weseruebung had entered a new phase. 
The enemy had reacted, isolating the regiment at Narvik; and it took 
no clairvoyance to envision similar developments at Trondheim or 
Bergen. The Weseruebung plan had failed to achieve its most im- 
portant objective, a Norwegian surrender that would give Group XXI 
control of the interior lines of communication needed to link up its 
landing teams. A strategy conference at Fuehrer Headquarters on 13 
April decided that, if the situation in Norway deteriorated badly, the issue 
would not be forced there; instead the attack in the west would be 
launched within eight or ten days to draw off Allied pressure. 1 The 
weather, which continued cold and rainy, reduced the chances of ap- 
plying that solution. Confronted for the first time with a possible 
defeat, Hitler panicked. 

On the afternoon of 13 April, with results of the final British attack 
on the destroyers not yet known in Berlin, Hitler ordered Dietl to defend 
Narvik under all circumstances, but a day later he became convinced 
that the situation at Narvik was hopeless. On the 14th he disclosed 
his belief that Narvik could not be held to the Commander in Chief, 
Army, Generaloberst Walter von Brauchitsch, and "in a state of fright- 
ful agitation" proposed ordering Dietl to give up Narvik and withdraw 
southward overland. 2 The next day, after the OKH expressed opposi- 
tion to the projected evacuation of Narvik, General Jodl, Chief of the 
Operations Staff, OKW, explained that the question of complete evac- 
uation had not yet been decided, but the city of Narvik could not be 
held, and the troops were to be withdrawn into the mountains. 3 

Two days later Hitier insisted that DietPs force either be ordered to 
withdraw into Sweden or be evacuated by air. Jodl maintained that 
a withdrawal into Sweden was "impossible," and that an air evac- 
uation would save only part of the troops, result in a heavy loss of 

1 Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 1 13. 

2 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik,?. 6. Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p 113. Jodl Diary, 
14 Apr 40. 

s Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 1 14. 


planes, and shatter the morale of the Narvik force. In any case, Ger- 
many did not have enough long-range aircraft to execute the evacua- 
tion. Jodl also opposed Hitler's earlier intention of instructing Dietl 
to withdraw southward and brought in a professor with expert knowl- 
edge of Norway to prove that the terrain south of Narvik was impassable 
even for mountain troops.* 

Nevertheless, on the afternoon of the 17th, the Operations Staff, 
OKW, without being previously consulted, received for transmittal an 
order signed by Hitler giving Dietl discretionary authority to withdraw 
his force into Sweden and be interned. The OKH feared that execu- 
tion of the order would impair the morale of the entire Army; there- 
fore, to counteract it, Brauchitsch dispatched a message to Dietl, con- 
gratulating him on his recent promotion to Generalleutnant and 
expressing "the conviction" that he would "defend Narvik even against 
a superior enemy. 51 5 In the OKW the Hitler order was held up long 
enough for Jodl to argue the case with Hitler once more. By evening 
Jodl was able to get Hitler's signature on a new order instructing Dietl 
to hold Narvik as long as possible and then to withdraw along the rail- 
road into the interior. The possibility that picked troops might with- 
draw southward was left for further investigation. 6 

The achievement of a more rational and determined attitude with 
regard to the situation at Narvik did not end the crisis; and Jodl, on 19 
April, complained of incipient chaos in the high-level conduct of the 
Norwegian operation. Goering was demanding stronger action against 
the population and attempted to create an impression that guerrilla 
warfare and sabotage were widespread in Norway. He complained, 
too, that the Navy was leaving the burden of troop transportation to 
the Air Force. The appointment of Terboven as Reichskommissar for 
Norway also aroused misgivings in the OKW, which doubted whether 
his authority could be sufficiently circumscribed to preclude interference 
in military affairs and saw in his appointment a shift toward repression 
in civilian affairs. The OKW, having no interest in fighting an ex- 
tended campaign against the Norwegians, wanted to avoid stirring up 
either active or passive resistance. 7 

Meanwhile, Allied landings in the vicinity of Trondheim had pro- 
vided a new cause for concern. The British Chiefs of Staff, having 
first considered a direct attack on the city, came gradually to favor an 
envelopment from the north and south as less risky. On 14 April a 
British naval party went ashore at Namsos. Two days later a British 
brigade, diverted from the force for Narvik, followed, and on the 19th 

4 Jodl Diary, 17 Apr 40. 

6 Generaloberst a.D. Franz Haider, Comments on Part I, The German Northern 
Theater of Operations 1940-1945, 12 Nov 56. 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, p. 9 
Haider Diary, Vol. Ill, p. 1 17. 

6 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, pp. 9, 10, 13. Jodl Diary 17, 18 Apr 40. Dietl, 
op. cit., p. 107. 

T Jodl Diary, 19, 20 Apr 40. 


three French battalions landed. At Andalsnes, south of Trondheim, a 
British brigade debarked on 18 April, following a naval party which 
had landed a day earlier. On the 19th the Allies had a total of 8,000 
men ashore at Namsos and Andalsnes. 8 

The Allied threat to Trondheim threw Hitler into a renewed state of 
agitation. On 21 April the slow progress of the advance north from 
Oslo led him to cancel transfer of the 1 1th Motorized Brigade to Norway 
and to substitute the 2d Mountain Division. A day later he proposed 
using the liners Bremen and Europa to transport a division to Trond- 
heim but reluctantly gave way after Raeder protested that the entire 
fleet would be needed to escort the ships and that the probable outcome 
would be the loss of both transports and the fleet. Several days later, 
to the dismay of the OKH, which saw its best troops being sluiced off to 
Norway while the campaign against France was in the offing, Hitler 
ordered the 1st Mountain Division readied for transport to Norway. 
Before that division could be dispatched, Group XXI had established 
land contact between Oslo and Trondheim, and the Allied evacuation 
had begun. 9 

The Advance Northward from Oslo 
The Breakout 

For the Germans Oslo was the key to the occupation of Norway. 10 
Once the city was firmly in their hands they had a secure base, reason- 
ably safe lines of communication back to Germany, and access to the 
important routes through the interior of the country. Although none 
of those was ever in doubt, the Oslo landing, quite aside from its being 
the most costly and the least successful of the landings in Norway, 
seriously affected the whole further course of the campaign. The 
Weseruebung plan had been devised to exploit the effects of shock, 
which was expected to give the German forces command of the situation 
at all points and to throw the Norwegians into confusion. At Oslo it 
failed. The overwhelming attack which was supposed to paralyze the 
Norwegian Government and people came in driblets. While the Nor- 
wegians had time to think, the Germans themselves were thrown off 
balance temporarily. They recovered fast, but in the interval the quick 
victory they had gambled on had slipped out of their grasp. 

In Oslo on the night of 9 April Group XXI had seven companies of 
infantry and two parachute companies. The next morning, as elements 

8 Derry, op. cit., pp. 68ff. Butler, op. cit., pp. 136ff. 

9 Jodl Diary, 23, 29 Apr 40. Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, I, p. 38. 

10 In this section extensive use has been made of two articles, "Die Kaempje um 
die Landverbindung nach Drontheim im April 1940," Teil I and Teil II, which 
appeared as parts of the three-part series "Aus dem Feldzug in Norwegen" published 
in Nos. 2, 3, and 4, ]ahrgang 1941, of the Militaerwissenschaftliche Rundschau bj 
the German Army General Staff. 


of the 163 d Division arrived and the airlift resumed, Group XXI con- 
sidered dispatching a battalion to Bergen and another to Trondheim by 
rail, but it was too late for that. The Norwegian 1st and 2d Divisions 
were mobilizing near Oslo, and the Norwegians, both people and gov- 
ernment, were displaying more determination than had been anticipated. 
As he waited another two days for the 1st and 2d Sea Transport Eche- 
lons to bring in the main forces of the 163d and 196th Divisions, Falken- 
horst decided to proceed more cautiously than the Weseruebung plan 
originally intended. He made it his first order of business to establish a 
secure foothold at Oslo and gain access to the main interior lines of 
communication. 11 

On 12 and 13 April Group XXI issued orders setting in motion an 
advance southeast of Oslo to the Swedish border and thrusts northward, 
northwestward, and westward from Oslo to take possession of the rail 
connections to Trondheim, Bergen, and Kristiansand. The 196th Di- 
vision, assigned the sector east of Oslo, was to send two battalions south- 
ward to secure Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg, and Halden, a regiment (less one 
battalion) eastward to Kongsvinger, and a battalion (at the outset) 
northward in the direction of Hamar. The 163 d Division, operating 
in and west of Oslo, was to provide security troops for the city, occupy 
the junction of the Bergen railroad at Honefoss, and advance along the 
Kristiansand railline as far as Kongsberg. 12 To give the enemy as little 
time as possible for assembly, the striking forces were motorized, mostly 
by improvisation in requisitioned vehicles. As was to become charac- 
teristic of the Norwegian campaign, the divisions operated not as units 
but in tactical groupings which themselves varied greatly in size and 
composition and were subject almost daily to changes in strength as 
elements were detached or new troops arrived. / 

The advance went smoothly in all directions. Units of the 196th 
Division took Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg on 13 April and occupied 
Halden and the border fortresses at Trogstad, Mysen, and Greaaker on 
14 April. Within three days the entire southeastern tip of Norway, 
important for its road and railroad connections with Sweden, was in 
German hands. One thousand Norwegian troops were captured, and 
3,000, including the commanding general of the Norwegian 1st Division, 
were forced across the Swedish border. 13 On the east a unit advanced 
toward Kongsvinger, and in the north motorized troops and a mountain 
battalion going by rail reached the southern tip of Mjosa Lake via 
Eidsvoll. On the 12th, elements of the 163d Division took Kongsberg, 

11 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen der Gruppe XXI an OKW, 9.4.40-14.6.40, 
pp. 2-14. AOK 20 E 278/3a. 

12 Gruppe XXI, la, Operationsbefehl fuer die Besetzung von Suednorwegen, 
12.4.1940, in Anlagenband I zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u.3, 8.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/1. 
Gruppe XXI, la, Operationsbefehl fuer die Fortsetzung der Saeuberung Suednor- 
wegens, 13.4.1940, in Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 13.4-18.4.40. AOK 20 
E 279/3. 

13 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 14-16. Derry, op. cit., p. 101. 


«<° . Snath 

Map 4 

where the Norwegian 3d Infantry Regiment surrendered a day later; 
and on the morning of the 14th Honefoss was taken. 14 With this, the 
major points in the immediate area of Oslo were secured, and the stage 
was set for more extensive operations into the interior. 

" Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 15-18. 


Improvised Armored Train 

On 14 April elements of Group XXI were in position to strike toward 
the entrances to the Osterdal and the Gudbrandsdal, the valley approach 
routes through the mountains to Trondheim. The Osterdal opens in 
the south at Kongsvinger, and the Mjosa Lake lies astride the southern 
entrance to the Gudbrandsdal. In the Gudbrandsdal a road and rail- 
road run to Andalsnes, connecting with the Trondheim railroad at Dom- 
baas. To complete the conquest of Norway south of Trondheim the 
Germans had to take these two valleys. On 1 3 April Group XXI began 
moving in a number of mobile units to aid the advance: the remainder 
(two companies) of Panzer Battalion 40, the 4th, 13th, and 14th Motor- 
ized Machine Gun Battalions, and a motorized battalion of the "General 
Goering" Regiment. 1 '' 

The Germans' advance toward the entrances to the valleys was bring- 
ing them into the area in which the new Norwegian Commander in 
Chief, Gencralmajor Otto Ruge, intended to stage his main effort. 
The last-minute appointment of Ruge, on 1 1 April, to replace General- 
major Kristian Laake, who retired because of age, epitomized the con- 
dition of the Norwegian Army. Despite the six-months'-old war on 
the mainland and the recent conflict in Finland, very little had been 
done to strengthen and modernize the Army. Up to the day the Ger- 
mans landed, and even afterward, Norwegian opinion at all levels was 
strongly influenced, on the one hand, by a conviction that war was 
futile and, on the other, by a single-minded, almost complacent, dedi- 

w Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, WFA, Abt, L, Nr. 753/40, 
13,4.40, in Anlagertband 3 turn Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 


cation to the principle of neutrality. Even though the recent crises, 
particularly that in Finland, had brought a partial transition from near- 
total unpreparedness, the Army was still in no wise on a war footing. 
It had no tanks or antitank weapons, and the Army Air Force had a 
total of 41 combat aircraft. 16 On 9 April the coastal forts at Oslo, 
Kristiansand, Bergen, and Trondheim were manned at about one-third 
of full strength. 17 The only sizable increase in the Army's field forces 
was in the far north. There the 6th Division had 7,100 men stationed at 
and north of Narvik, most of them in the zone along the Finnish border 
north of Tromso. The remaining five divisions had a total strength of 
8,220 men. To those were added 950 men in the Army Air Force, 
1,800 in air defense, and 300 security guards. 18 By the time mobiliza- 
tion began, much of the Army's supplies and equipment and the key 
centers of telephone and telegraph communications were in German 

When General Ruge arrived at the Army headquarters, then lo- 
cated in Rena in the Osterdal, on the morning of 11 April, he had 
effective command of only one unit, the 2d Division, which was mobil- 
izing north of Oslo. The Germans had already captured the supply 
depots closest to Oslo and were bombing the others as they located 
them. The division had almost no artillery, and the mobilization was 
hampered by snarled communications and contradictory orders being 
issued from the German-controlled capital. Ruge knew that an offen- 
sive or even a stationary defense was out of the question, but he had a 
hope that the Allies would bring effective aid quickly. He also knew 
that the Trondheim area offered the best possibilities for an Allied 
counteroperation ; therefore, he decided not to risk pitched battles but 
to attempt to slow up the German northward advance enough to pre- 
serve for the Allied forces a favorable field for operations against 
Trondheim and access to the routes by which southern Norway could 
be reconquered. The 2d Division would begin the resistance along 
a line stretching roughly from the southern tip of Rands Fiord to the 
mouth of the Osterdal. 19 

On 14 April the OKW, worried by an Air Force report that British 
destroyers were in the harbor at Andalsnes, ordered Group XXI to 
speed up the advance, using all the means at its disposal to take posses- 
sion of the railroad Oslo-Hamar— Dombaas as far as Andalsnes and, 
secondarily, to Trondheim. Hitler personally ordered parachute troops 
committed immediately to take the railroad junction at Dombaas. 20 

18 OKH, GenStdH , Kriegswissenschaftlichen Abt., maps and charts for a study 
entitled Die Eroberung Norwegens und die Besetzung Daenemarks, Chart "Die 
Wehrmacht Norwegens am 9.4.1940." AOK 20 85517. 

" Ibid., chart "Norwegens Kuestenbefestigungen am 9.4.1940 frue'h." 

18 Ibid., chart "Die Wehrmacht Norwegens am 9.4.1940." 

19 O. Munthe-Kass, Krigen I Norge 1940 (Oslo: Gyldenal Norsk Forlag, 1955), 
Bind I, pp. 17-20, 127, 131, 143. W. Brandt, Krieg in Norwegen (Zurich: Europa 
Verlag, 1942), pp. 62-67. 

20 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 266/40, OKW, WFA, Nr. 88/40, 14.4.40, in Anlagenband 
3 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3.13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 


The X Air Corps landed one parachute company at Dombaas that same 
day, only to learn afterward that Goering thought the Air Force was 
already carrying too much of the burden in Norway and refused to 
supply any more troops. The company at Dombaas, isolated in enemy 
territory, had to surrender five days later. 21 Still trying for a quick 
solution, Group XXI planned a second airborne operation for 1 6 April. 
Its object was to bypass the Norwegian defenses in the Rands Fiord— 
Mjosa Lake area. A battalion of infantry and a company of parachute 
troops were to be landed on the ice at the northern end of Mjosa Lake 
and, after taking Lillehammer, were to advance up the Gudbrandsdal 
to Dombaas. That operation had to be canceled because the Air Force 
claimed "technical difficulties." 22 

While the last attempts to achieve a quick breakthrough to Trondheim 
were still in progress, Group XXI began positioning its forces for an 
advance to the north. On 14 April the 196th Division already had one 
column pushing east toward Kongsvinger and another at the southern 
tip of Mjosa Lake. On the same day a motorized battalion of the 163d 
Division began reconnoitering northward between Rands Fiord and 
Mjosa Lake. 23 When it became involved in heavy fighting with Nor- 
wegian troops defending a barricade of felled trees south of Stryken, a 
newly arrived regiment of the 181st Division was moved up in support. 

On 15 April the 163d Division halted its advance along the Bergen 
railroad and began to push northward in the area between the Sperillen 
and Mjosa Lakes. The division formed three columns: the regiment 
on the right advancing from Stryken in the direction of Gjovik, two 
battalions in the center moving from Honefoss along the eastern shore 
of Rands Fiord toward Fluberg, and two battalions on the left moving 
along the east shore of Sperillen Lake toward Bagn. The battalions in 
the center had a company of light tanks, and the battalions on the left, 
two tanks. As tanks and motorized forces became available they were 
assigned to all the forces in the northward advance, where they proved 
extremely valuable since the Norwegians had no tanks of their own nor 
any effective antitank weapons. On the 16th the right column of the 
163d Division reached Bjorgeseter; that in the center reached the south- 
ern tip of Rands Fiord; and that on the left reached nearly to Skagnes 
at the northern end of Sperillen Lake. 

In the sector of the 196th Division a three- pronged advance was also 
developing. Two battalions took Kongsvinger on the 16th, opening the 

21 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 284/40, Lage in Norwegen, 18.4.40, in Anlagenband 
4 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. 

22 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 270/40, Befehl fuer Luftlandung bei Lillehammer, 
16.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 13.4-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 
Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 270/40, 16.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 13.4.- 
18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 

23 Gruppe XXIa, la, Nr. 265/40. Operationsbefehl, 14.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum 
Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 


Infantry advancing north of Oslo. 

way to the Osterdal and gaining control of the railroad to Sweden. Two 
columns, each in battalion strength, were advancing along the east and 
west shores of Mjosa Lake. One had reached Totenvik on the west 
shore, but heavy resistance at Strandlokka held up the other. 

From the southern tip of Rands Fiord to Kongsvinger the German 
units reported meeting stubborn resistance as they encountered the Nor- 
wegian 2d Division's defensive line. The terrain was becoming moun- 
tainous, and deep snow made movement off the roads nearly impossible.* 4 
It had been spring in Oslo, but in the highlands away from the coast 
winter would continue unbroken for another month or more. 

On 16 April Group XXI, estimating the Norwegian strength at 15,000 
men, ordered all groups to continue the advance northward and, with 
the exception of the battalions in the Osterdal which were to proceed 
toward Elverum, to converge on Lillehammer at the mouth of the Gud- 
brandsdal. The 1 63d Division, which at the time had four regiments, 
two of Its own and one each from the 69th and 181st Divisions, received 
the additional mission of providing security forces for the areas south- 
east and southwest of Oslo. 2!i The OKL assigned one bomber group on 
the 17th to support the northward advance of Group XXL Most of the 
planes continued to operate from German bases; but a squadron at the 
disposal of Group XXI at Oslo at least part!y solved the problems raised 
by the separate command of the air forces. 26 

"* Cruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, lot. cit., pp. 23-25. 

* Gruppe XXI t la, Nr. 272/40, Operationsbefekl zur Vemichtung der norweg, 
Kraeftsgruppe im Raum beiderseits des Mjosa Sees, 16.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum 
Ktb. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-1 8.4.40. A OK 20 E 279/3. 

"Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFA, Abt. L, Nr. 8- 
6/40, an Cruppe XXI, 17.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 14A.-18AA0. 
AOK 20 E 279/3. 


In the sector of the 196th Division, the battalion on the left flank along 
the west shore of Mjosa Lake was reinforced by the motorized battalion 
from Stryken and transferred to the command of the 1 63d Division. On 
the 17th, to break the resistance of the Norwegians at Strandlokka, a 
battalion sent up from Oslo crossed the thawing ice of Mjosa Lake from 
the west shore to attack the defenses from the rear. The Norwegian 
troops were forced to withdraw in haste, and, delayed only by roadblocks 
and demolished bridges, the Germans were able to take Hamar on the 
night of the 18th. From Hamar a battalion crossed into the Osterdal 
to take Elverum, where, on the 20th, it met the force moving up from 
Kongsvinger. With that, the force in the Osterdal reached full regi- 
mental strength. Two battalions remaining at Hamar (an additional 
battalion had been committed by the 18th) were joined by a motorized 
machine gun battalion. The regiment in the Osterdal met strong re- 
sistance south of Rena-Aamot, which it took on the 21st. The force 
advancing northward from Hamar reached Moelv on the 19th but was 
then held up for two days by strong positions on the Lundehogda (domi- 
nating heights north of Moelv). In the fighting at the Lundehogda 
British troops appeared in action for the first time but could not influence 
the course of events. On the night of the 2 1st, in a daring advance, the 
motorized machine gun battalion took Lillehammer. 

In the sector of the 163d Division the two battalions (joined by a 
third on the 18th) advancing along the west shore of Mjosa Lake took 
Gjovik on the 21st and made contact there that same day with the regi- 
ment which had been advancing via Stryken, Brandbu, and Eina. 27 The 
column on the east shore of Rands Fiord reached Fluberg on the 19th 
and turned eastward toward Gjovik on the 20th, making contact in the 
vicinity of Vardal with forces from Gjovik maneuvering to outflank 
enemy resistance on the heights at Braastad. The battalions on the far 
left flank reached Bagn on the 19th but encountered strong resistance 
and could not turn east toward Fluberg as ordered because of threats 
to their rear and flanks; consequently, they withdrew, leaving a security 
forces at Nes, and moved to Fluberg via Honefoss and the east shore of 
Rands Fiord. 

As the fighting moved into the Norwegian highlands the German 
ground tactics were forced into a uniform pattern by the nature of the 
terrain and the weather. Deep snow and steep valley slopes restricted 
movement to the roads. Taking advantage of those conditions, the 
Norwegians based their defense on a series of roadblocks and barricades 
supported by flanking fire from the heights. The German answer, 
which proved highly effective, was to employ reinforced infantry spear- 
heads organized in order of march as follows: one or two tanks, two 
trucks carrying engineers and equipment, an infantry company with 
heavy weapons organized into assault detachments, a platoon of artillery, 

27 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., 36. 


a relief infantry company, relief engineers and artillery. In action the 
technique was to bring a roadblock under heavy frontal fire while ski 
troops attempted to work their way around the defenders' flanks. 
Against strongly held positions small assault detachments were committed 
under heavy covering fire in an effort to break the line at several places. 

To Trondheim 

With the capture of Lillehammer and Rena-Aamot Group XXI had 
completed the conquest of the Oslo region, the heartland of Norway; 
but its advance units were still 200 miles from Trondheim, and the val- 
ley defiles of the Gudbrandsdal and the Osterdal favored the defense. 
In the Gudbrandsdal newly arrived British forces had to be taken into 
account. The British 148th Brigade, which landed at Andalsnes on 
18 April, had intended to develop an attack on Trondheim; but the speed 
of the German advance from the south forced it to turn into the Gud- 
brandsdal to support the Norwegians. Five days later the 15th Brigade 
landed and also moved into the Gudbrandsdal, bringing the total of 
British troops to between five and six thousand. While the appearance 
of British troops worried Hitler, the British from the start had their own 
troubles, not the least of which was the lack of a satisfactory base. An- 
dalsnes was a small fishing port which larger ships visited only during 
the summer tourist season. Its dock facilities were completely inade- 
quate for handling heavy military equipment, and it was located well 
within range of the German Air Force. 28 

On 21 April Hitler assigned the establishment of land contact between 
Oslo and Trondheim as the main mission of Group XXI. Operations 
against Andalsnes were to be postponed for the time being. 29 On the 
same day Group XXI prepared for the next phase of the offensive. It 
withdrew the 163 d Division from the northward advance and turned it 
west via Bagn toward the Sogne Fiord to protect the left flank. The 
regiment of the 181st Division, which had been attached to the 163d 
Division, was to continue its advance along the west shore of Mjosa 
Lake and come under the command of the 196th Division on reaching 
the north end of the lake. 30 The reinforced 196th Division, advancing 
in two columns, one in the Gudbrandsdal and the other in the Osterdal, 
would carry out the advance to Trondheim. 

On 22 April elements of the 196th Division advanced out of Lille- 
hammer into the Gudbrandsdal, bypassing the Balbergkamp, a height 
commanding the entrance to the valley, and forcing the defending 
British and Norwegian troops into a hasty retreat. On the following 
day the British and Norwegians attempted a stand at Tretten, where 

28 Derry, op. cit., pp. 67-74, 77, 104, 105, 1 19, 138, 143. 

29 Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht OKW, WFA, Nr. 106/40, 
in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 279/4. 

30 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 285/40, Operationsbefehl fuer die 163. Division ab 21.4.40, 
in Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2u3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. 


Infantrymen taking cover behind a Mark 1 tank. 

the valley bends and narrows to a gorge ; but the troops were nearly ex- 
hausted, and the British antitank rifles failed to penetrate the German 
tanks which broke through the main positions along the road and cut 
off the defenders' forward units. For the British 148th Brigade, the 
action at Tretten was a disaster. A large number of its troops, including 
a battalion commander and other officers, were taken prisoner. At the 
end of the day, what was left of the brigade had to seek refuge 45 miles 
to the rear in one of the tributary valleys of the Gudbrandsdal. 31 At 
midnight on 24 April German troops entered Vinstra, halfway between 
Lillehammer and Dombaas. 

In the light of the victory at Tretten and the rapid advance in the 
Gudbrandsdal, Group XXI no longer saw a need to concentrate first 
on reaching Trondheim, On 24 April, it ordered the 196th Division 
to continue its drive via Dombaas to Andalsnes and complete the de- 
struction of the British forces. The troops in the Osterdal were to carry 
on the advance to Trondheim. The enemy was to be allowed no respite 
and no opportunity to establish new defensive positions. Henceforth, 
the tactical groupings were designated by the names of their com- 
manders, Group Pellengahr ( Generalleutnant Richard Pellengahr, Com- 
manding General, 196th Division) in the Gudbrandsdal and Group 
Fischer (Colonel Hermann Fischer, Commanding Officer, 340th In- 
fantry Regiment) in the Osterdal. Group Fischer, transferred to the 
direct command of Group XXI, was composed (on 23 April) of three 

Derry.o/i. cit., pp. 110-12. 


infantry battalions, two artillery battalions, one engineer battalion, two 
motorized companies of the "General Goering" Regiment, one motor- 
ized machine gun company, and two platoons of tanks. Group Pel- 
lengahr (on 26 April) consisted of seven infantry battalions, a motorized 
machine gun battalion (less one company), two artillery battalions, a 
company of engineers, and a platoon of tanks. 82 

On 22 April, south of the Gudbrandsdal, the regiment of the 163 d Di- 
vision moving up to join Group Pellengahr pushed past Braastad on the 
west shore of Mjosa Lake. Encountering artillery fire at Faaberg, two 
battalions crossed the ice at the northern tip of the lake to Lillehammer 
on the 24th while one battalion pushed into the Gausdal, threw back 
the Norwegian troops defending the valley, and on the following day 
entered the Gudbrandsdal at Tretten. Several days later the 163d 
Division sent a battalion northward into the Gausdal from Vingnes 
while Group Pellengahr diverted a detachment including tanks and 
motorcycle troops southwestward from Tretten. Together they trapped 
the Norwegian troops in the Gausdal and on 29 April forced the sur- 
render of 250 officers and 3,500 men of the Norwegian 2d Division. 

On 23 April at Rena-Aamot in the Osterdal, Group Fischer formed 
its newly arrived tank and motorized troops into a motorized advance 
detachment. While the mass of the group, held up by demolished 
bridges, remained at Rena-Aamot, the motorized detachment pushed 
along the east and west shores of Stor Lake reaching the northern end 
of the lake on the 24th. As the main force of Group Fischer followed 
along the eastern shore of the lake, the motorized detachment continued 
northward throughout the night, reaching Tynset the following morn- 
ing. There a small reconnaissance party was sent east along the rail- 
road to Roros. Part of the detachment remained in Tynset while part 
proceeded to Kvikne, arriving there on the same day. Meanwhile, the 
main force had arrived at Rendal. 83 

Group Pellengahr, moving out from Vinstra on the morning of 25 
April, encountered renewed resistance at Kvam. There, at a sharp 
bend in the valley, the newly arrived British 15 th Brigade had established 
a battalion in strong positions with antitank guns which were able to 
deal with the German armor. But this time Group Pellengahr had 
reached its full strength and, except for an artillery battalion held up 
at the mouth of the Gausdal, was echeloned in depth from Kvam to 
Ringebu. The fighting continued at Kvam until the night of the 26th 
as the German infantry attacked and attempted to work its way around 

32 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 288/40, Operationsbejehl, 24.4.40, in Anlagenband 5 zum 
Ktb. Nr. 2. u. 3, 24.4.-30.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/5. 196. I.D., Gliederung der 196. 
Division, Stand 26.4.40 and Gruppe XXI, Anlage zur Lagenkarte der Gruppe XXI 
vom 27.4.40, in Anlagenband 19 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, Kriegsgliederungen, 15.4.-25.4.40. 
AOK 20 E 279/19. 

33 v. Burstin Hauptmann u. Komp.-Chef in der Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V. 40, Bericht 
ueber den Einsatz der Mot. V oraus-Abteilung bei der Kampf gruppe Fischer im 
Norwegen Feldzug vom 23.4.40-6.5.50, pp. 1-16. 2. Geb. Div. 8358/1. 


German troops clearing fallen rocks placed as a roadblock. 

the British left flank with the support of aircraft and artillery. During 
the night, the British troops withdrew, having placed a battalion three 
miles to the rear to hold a narrow spot in the valley near Kjorem while 
positions were to be prepared farther to the rear at Otta. The British 
held at Kjorem until nightfall the next day. 

On the morning of the 28th the German troops encountered a British 
battalion in strong positions flanked by steep valley slopes at Otta. 
Infantry attacks, with tanks, artillery, and air support, and attempts to 
outflank the British positions failed during the day. In the course of 
the fighting, evacuation of the Andalsnes beachhead had been ordered, 
and the German troops entered Otta the next morning to find the town 

The British decision to evacuate had been precipitated by German 
bombing of Andalsnes and the subsidiary port of Molde on the 26th 
which rendered both ports practically useless. On the 28th a British 
battalion established positions south of Dombaas to hold the town while 
the force from Otta withdrew to Andalsnes. There, during the after- 
noon of the 30th, it held off German infantry, advancing without its 
tanks and artillery which were delayed by a demolished bridge, until 
nightfall. At midnight the British left Dombaas for Andalsnes by train. 
At 2330 on the 30th, naval units began the evacuation from Andalsnes, 
which had been subjected to numerous heavy air attacks since the 26th. 
The evacuation was completed in the early hours of 2 May. Mean- 
while, Group Pellengahr brought its rear echelons from Otta to Dombaas 
by rail f but the destroyed rail and road bridges west of Dombaas forced 


the forward elements to advance to Andalsnes on foot. The first German 
troops reached Andalsnes in the afternoon of 2 May. 34 

On 27 April the motorized advance detachment of Group Fischer 
in the Osterdal met heavy resistance at Naaverdalen. After the Nor- 
wegian positions had been subjected to air bombardment, the Germans 
occupied the town during the night. During the day, the main force 
had moved up to Tynset and Tyldal and sent out small units on the 
flanks to Roros and Bakken. The next morning the motorized detach- 
ment moved into Ulsberg and turned northward toward Berkaak where, 
shortly before noon on the 30th, it made contact with an advance party 
of 181st Division troops moving southward from Trondheim. With 
that, the land contact Oslo-Trondheim was established. 35 On 1 May 
the undamaged railroad running southward from Ulsberg via Opdal to 
Dombaas could be used to establish contact between Group Pellengahr 
and Group Fischer. From Opdal a detachment was sent westward 
to Sunndalsora where it reached the coast on the 2d; and on 3 May 
the remainder of the Norwegian 2d Division (123 officers and 2,500 
men), trapped between Sundalsora and Andalsnes on the snow-covered 
Dovre Fjell, surrendered. 36 

Operations at Trondheim 

On 10 April the landing team at Trondheim held the city and the 
batteries at the entrance to the fiord and had taken the airfield at 
Vaernes, 20 miles east of the city, without fighting. 37 

Mobilization of the Norwegian 5th Brigade was in large part frus- 
trated by the capture of its supply depot and most of its artillery in 
Trondheim. By the 11th the airfield could accommodate transports 
and bombers, and on the following day seven dive bombers were based 
there. On the 13 th a battalion of infantry was brought in by air, and 
the arrival of the steamer Levante of the Export Echelon with antiair- 
craft guns, 100-mm. guns, ammunition, and gasoline brought some im- 
provement in the supply situation. 38 

Trondheim ranked next to Oslo as a political center. Located at the 
terminus of the railroads from Oslo and a rail line to Sweden it was 
strategically important for the control of central and northern Norway. 
To the Germans it was particularly important for air communications 
with Narvik. It was also, next to Narvik, the most promising target for 
an Allied counterthrust. The immediate German concern, then, was 
defense against an attack from the sea. For that purpose they manned 

34 Derry, op. cit., pp. 119-28, 130, 134, 136, 138. 

35 v. Burstin Hauptmann u. Komp.-Chef in der Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V. 40, Bericht, 
loc. cit., pp. 16—26. 

36 v. Burstin Hauptmann u. Komp.-Chef in der Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V. 40, Bericht 
loc. cit., pp. 25-28. Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 65—69. 

37 In this section extensive use has been made of the article "Von Drontheim bis 
Namsos," Teil III of the series "Aus dem Feldzug in Norwegen" (see footnote 10). 

38 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 7—17. 


the captured coastal guns and kept the main body of the landing force 
available in the city. 

The prospect of Allied landings at Namsos and Andalsnes posed an 
acute threat to the German force at Trondheim. On the 14th, when 
air reconnaissance mistakenly reported a British landing at Andalsnes, 
the OKW informed Group XXI that its most important mission was 
to establish a secure beachhead at Trondheim and to smash the British 
landing. Hitler ordered, "with greatest emphasis," that Trondheim 
was to be reinforced by air; and instructed the Navy to shift the weight 
of its submarine operations to the area before and on either side of 
Trondheim. 39 Orders of the OKW and Group XXI set a twofold mis- 
sion for Group Trondheim: to occupy Steinkjer and to capture the 
railroad running east out of Trondheim to the Swedish border. Steinkjer, 
located fifty miles north of Trondheim on a six-mile wide isthmus be- 
tween the Beitstad Fiord and Snaasen Lake, controlled access to the 
Trondheim area from the north. The railroad was an important ob- 
jective because the Germans believed at the time that they could secure 
permission to use the Swdish railroads for military transport. As soon 
as troops became available the northward advance was to be continued 
to Grong and Namsos. In place of the 196th Division, which was com- 
mitted in the advance northward from Oslo, the staff and elements of 
the 181st Division (eventually two regiments) were to be transported 
to Trondheim by air from Oslo. 40 

With persistent bad weather delaying the air transport operations, 
Group Trondheim first decided to stage a limited offensive along the 
railroad to Sweden with the one battalion it had received. The advance 
began on the 15th with air support and an improvised armored train. 
By nightfall the following day the railroad up to the border was in 
German hands. A small but stubbornly defended fort at Hegra could 
not be taken and subsequently held out until 5 May. 

In the meantime, Allied landings were in progress at Namsos, 127 
miles north of Trondheim. On 14 April a naval party of about 350 
sailors and marines landed from two cruisers, followed on the 16th by 
the British 146th Brigade and on the 19th by the French 5th Demi-bri- 
gade of Chasseurs Alpins. The Allied force totaled about 6,000 men, 
and the Norwegian troops in the vicinity, according to German estimates 
which were probably high, totaled another 6,000 — these opposed to a 
German strength of about 4,000 men on 2 1 April and 9,500 on 30 April. 
Allied units, rapidly expanding their beachhead, reached Grong — the 
railroad junction east of Namsos — and Steinkjer on the 17th but did not 

38 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 266/40, OKW, WFA, Nr. 88/40, 14.4.40, in Anlagenband 
Nr. 3 zumKtb. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. 

40 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 268/40, Befehl fuer Operation in Raum um Drontheim, 
15.4.40; OKW, L, Nr. 276/40, and Gruppe XXI, 14.4.40; and OKW, an Gruppe 
XXI, 16.4.40, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 3 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 
20 E 279/3. 



9 April - 4 May 1940 

Map 5 


attempt to develop an attack against the German forces to the south. 

On 18 and 21 April Hitler established the closing of the isthmus at 
Steinkjer as the chief mission of Group Trondheim, and instructed Group 
XXI and the Air Force to move reinforcements to Trondheim as rapidly 
as possible. 42 On the afternoon of the 20th Generalmajor Kurt Woy- 
tasch, commanding officer of the 181st Division, took command of Group 
Trondheim and ordered an advance on Steinkjer to begin the following 
morning. At the time, the total forces available at Trondheim con- 
sisted of five and one-half infantry battalions, parts of two batteries of 
mountain artillery, and a company of engineers. That the British had 
reached the Steinkjer area was not yet known. 

On the morning of the 21st, elements of a mountain battalion landed 
from a destroyer at Kirknesvaag about 15 miles southwest of Steinkjer. 
To take the road and railroad bridges at Verdalsora, a torpedo boat 
landed one infantry company north of the town while a company with a 

41 Derry, op. ext., pp. 83-88. ^ ^ , , t 

42 OKW WFA Nr 102/40, Betr: Norwegen, 18.4.40; Der Fuehrer und Oberste- 
befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFA, Nr. 106/40, and Gruppe XXI, 21.4.40, 
in Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. 


Infantrymen trudging up a snow-covered slope. Soldier resting, left foreground, 
carries an M.G. 34 light machine gun. 

battery of mountain artillery advanced northward by rail from Trond- 
heim. After about three hours of house-to-house fighting in a blinding 
snowstorm, the Germans took the town. The railroad bridge had been 
blown up, but the road bridge was intact. 43 

The British had established their main defensive position at Vist, 
about four miles south of Steinkjer. The Germans advanced on that 
town with a battalion moving along the shore of Beitstad Fiord and 
a company a?ong the road running northward from Verdalsora. On the 
morning of the 21st advance elements of the battalion from Kirknesvaag 
reached Vist, but the main force, depending on requisitioned vehicles, 
could not be brought up until nightfall. Both Vist and Steinkjer were 
brought under air attack. On the main road the Germans had ad- 
vanced nearly to Sparbu, halfway between Verdalsora and Vist, and 
at the end of the day the British were intending to withdraw northward 
behind Steinkjer. The next day, after fighting at Vist and Sparbu, the 
British at night withdrew north of Steinkjer. By the evening of the 
24th, Group Trondheim had full control of the isthmus from Steinkjer 
to Sunnan.* 4 

The British troops were not to go into action again. Bombing on the 
20th and 21st had destroyed the base at Namsos, and on the 23d 
evacuation was being discussed. The Germans, for their part, had no 

13 Gruppe Detrnold, la, Lagenmeldting fuer die Zeil vom 20 .4. 1600 Uhr bis 
21.4.1700 Uhr, 21.4.40 in Anlagenband 4 zum Klb. Nr. 7 u. 3, 19.4.-23,4,40, AOK 
20 E 279/4. 

■" Derry, op. cit., pp. 91-95. 


intention for the time being of advancing beyond Steinkjer where their 
positions could be regarded as exposed so long as the Snaasen Lake 
remained frozen and the route along the south shore of the lake remained 
open to the enemy. At the end of the month the French and Norwegian 
units planned an offensive, but it did not materialize. 45 

On 26 April, the isthmus at Steinkjer firmly in its hands and its total 
strength up to seven infantry battalions and six batteries of artillery 
including the captured Norwegians guns, Group Trondheim ordered 
a push southward to meet the columns advancing from Oslo. It had 
taken the bridges at Nypan and Melhus, ten miles south of the city, 
on 22 April. Late on the night of the 27th a battalion pushing south 
along the railroad entered Storen, at the junction of the lines from the 
Gudbrandsdal and the Osterdal. Three days later it made contact with 
elements of Group Fischer at Berkaak. Meanwhile, a battalion sent 
out on the 27th to secure the west flank had by the 30th pushed recon- 
naissance parties through to Vinje and Surnadal without encountering 
enemy forces. 

On 1 May Group Trondheim consisted of nine infantry battalions, 
a battalion of engineers, and eight batteries of artillery. 46 Destroyed 
bridges still prevented large-scale overland transport movements from 
Oslo. A battalion of the 2d Mountain Division was ordered flown 
from Denmark to Trondheim on the 1st, and on the 3d Group XXI 
ordered the regiment of the 181st Division and the mountain battalion 
attached to Group Pellengahr dispatched to Trondheim as soon as road 
conditions permitted. 47 

The OKW on 2 May established destruction of the enemy forces in 
the Namsos area as the chief mission of Group XXI. It was to execute 
the operation as soon as sufficient troops were on hand, but if the enemy 
showed signs of withdrawing it was to carry it out immediately. 48 A 
day later, after reports that Namsos was being evacuated had come in, 
the immediate attack, to begin on the 4th, was ordered. Group Trond- 
heim was authorized to employ all of its available forces. 49 

On the afternoon of the 3d, Group Trondheim sent out reconnais- 
sance forces, each in battalion strength, toward Namsos and Grong. 
The battalion going by way of the main road reached Namsos, where 
the last Allied troops had embarked early on the morning of the 3d, at 
1730 on the 4th. During the night 100 officers and 1,950 men of the 
Norwegian 5th Brigade surrendered. 

45 Deny, op. cit., pp. 95ff. 

46 Gruppe Trondheim, la, Lagenbericht, 1.5.40, in Anlagenband 6 zum Ktb. 2 u. 
3,1.5.-3.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/6. 

47 OKW, L, an Gruppe XXI, 30.4.40, in Anlagenband 5 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 24.4.- 
20.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/5. Gruppe XXI, la, Ifd Nr. 65, an 196 I.D., 3.5.40, in 
Anlagenband 6 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 1.5.-8.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/6. 

48 OKW, WFA, Abt. L. Nr. 960/40, an Gruppe XXI, 4.5.40, in Anlagenband 6 zum 
Ktb. 2 u. 3., 1.5.-8.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/6. 

49 Gruppe XXI, la, Ifd Nr. 67, an Gruppe Drontheim, 3.5.40, in Anlagenband 6 
zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 1.5.40-8.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/6. 


Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand 

At Bergen immediately after the landing, the 69th Infantry Division 
(one regiment) found itself exposed to possible attack by British forces 
from the sea and by the Norwegian 4th Brigade, which was able to 
complete its mobilization at Voss, 45 miles northeast of the city. It 
therefore had to limit itself for the time being to providing security for 
the beachhead. On 15 April the regiment of the 69th Division which 
had landed at Stavanger began transferring to Bergen by air and sea; 
two battalions made the shift in the first week. 

On 1 7 April the 69th Division sent out security forces ten miles east 
of Bergen and began reconnaissance in the direction of Voss, but it 
encountered resistance and reported that it could not advance farther 
with the troops at hand. In fact, without the knowledge of the Ger- 
mans, the main body of the Norwegian 4th Brigade was, on the 18th, 
ordered eastward away from Voss. After a reconnaissance in force 
directed against Voss on 21 April the division concluded that an over- 
land attack was not possible without seriously weakening the seaward 
defenses and that, for an attack through the Hardanger Fiord, the co- 
operation of naval units was necessary. On the basis of information 
from the population the division estimated the Norwegian strength at 
20,000 men. Group XXI, replying that it believed there was no im- 
mediate serious threat from the sea and that the estimate of Norwegian 
strength was exaggerated, ordered the division to attack as soon as 
possible. 30 

Their weak hold on Bergen worried the Germans, and the long stretch 
of open coast north of the city gave them added cause for concern since 
the Allies might take advantage of it to strike into the flank of the 
German advance from Oslo to Trondheim. Hitler thought the danger 
great enough to justify risking another sortie into the Atlantic. He 
wanted to send approximately a division of troops to Bergen aboard 
five fast steamers with a heavy naval escort. The OKW announced 
that intention to Group XXI on 23 April, but canceled it three days 
later. 51 

In a more practical vein, Group XXI, on 21 April, diverted the 163d 
Division from the advance north of Oslo and gave it the missions of 
mopping up in the Rands Fiord-Mjosa Lake zone, advancing via Bagn 
to the Sogne Fiord to prevent Allied landings, and making contact with 
the 69th Division in the Bergen area. 52 Two days later Group XXI 
ordered the division to develop the attack in two columns: one, con- 

50 Bergen, la, an Oldenburg, 21.4.40, in Gruppe XXI, Durchschlaege von Abschrift 
eines Teiles der Anlagen zum Ktb., 2 u. 3, 9.4.-10.5.40. AOK 20 E 288/1. von 
Falkenhorst an General Tittel, Bergen, 21.4.40, in Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb 2 u. 3, 
19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. 

51 Chef OKW, WFA, Abt. L, Nr. 868/40, an Gruppe XXI, 23.4.40, in Anlagenband 
4 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. Jodl Diary, 23, 26 Apr 40. 

52 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 285/40, Operationsbefehl fuer die 163. Division ab 21.4.40, 
in Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/4. 


Map 6 


sisting of four infantry battalions, a battalion of artillery, and a tank 
company, was to proceed via Bagn and Fagernes to Laerdalsora on 
Sogne Fiord while the other, composed of two infantry battalions (later 
three battalions), a battery of artillery, and a tank platoon, was to 
advance from Drammen through the Hallingdal and along the Bergen 
railroad as far as Gol and from there to continue in the direction of 
Laerdalsora. 53 

By 25 April the right column of the 163d Division was involved in 
heavy fighting at Bagn. There it encountered the Norwegian 4th 
Brigade which had moved east from Voss but arrived too late to influ- 
ence the fighting north of Oslo. On the same day Norwegian resistance 
and a demolished tunnel at Gulsvik stalled the column on the left in the 
Hallingdal. After two days, greatly aided by strong dive bomber sup- 
port, the Germans, on the 27th, broke through at Bagn and in the 
Hallingdal, where they advanced to within 12 miles of Gol. 

The Norwegians did not succeed in making another stand. The Ger- 
man column in the Hallingdal, reaching Gol on the 28th, began recon- 
naissance in the direction of Fagernes, sent a security force along the 
railroad toward Hoi, and continued with its main force toward Laerdal- 
sora. The column on the right passed through Fagernes on the 29th 
and reached Lommen the next day. On 28 April a third column was 
formed at Kongsberg on the left flank, and two days later it began an 
advance through the Numedal to Hoi. Effective Norwegian resistance 
ceased on 1 May with the surrender of the Norwegian 4th Brigade (300 
officers and 3,200 men) near Lommen. B * 

At Bergen the 69th Division had, on 23 April, sent one battalion out 
of the city along the railroad and another southeastward toward the 
Hardanger Fiord. The next day the division took Vaksdal on the rail- 
road and Norheimsund on the Fiord. On the 25th it developed a three- 
pronged attack on Voss. Two companies advanced along the railroad ; 
four companies pushed northeastward from the north shore of Har- 
danger Fiord near Alvik; and three companies landed at the eastern 
end of Hardanger Fiord at Eide to attack from the flank and rear. 55 
The attack made rapid progress, and the Germans took Voss on the 
morning of the 26th. On the same day, the division issued orders to 
continue the advance along the railroad to Myrdal and north to Gud- 
vangen on the Sogne Fiord. 96 On the 28th fighting began at the three- 
mile long Myrdal tunnel. The surrender of the Norwegian troops at 
Myrdal on 1 May ended organized resistance in the 69th Division sector, 

53 Gruppe XXI, Ia, Vorbefehl fuer die Bildung und den Einsatz der Kampfgruppe 
Ritzmann, 23.4.40, in Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2. u. 3., 19.4.-23.4.40. AOK 20 E 

54 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, pp. 45-68. 

65 69. Division, Abt. Ia, Divisionsbefehl fuer Angriff auf Voss-Bomoen, 24.4.40, in 
Anlagenband 5 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 24.4.-30.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/5. 

56 69. Division, Abt. Ia, Gefechtsbericht ueber Einnahne Voss-Bomoen, 27.4.40, in 
Anlagenband 5 zum KTB. Nr. 2 u. 3, 24.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/5. 


Mark II tank and infantry column in central Norway. 

and the division made contact with elements of the 163d Division on 
the railroad the next day." 

At Stavanger, after the landings, the immediate concern was with 
defense against a possible British landing. The airfield at Sola lay closer 
to the British Isles than any other German airbasc and so was both a 
threat and an inviting target. In the first days after the landing, the 
beachhead was subjected to repeated air attacks, and on 17 April British 
cruisers shelled the airfield, doing heavy damage. On the same day 
troops of the 214th Division arrived by air to replace elements of the 
69th Division, which were then transferred to Bergen. Orders issued 
on 21 April gave the 214th Division responsibility for the defense of the 
south coast including Stavanger and Kristiansand. 58 On the 20th ele- 
ments of the 214th Division opened an attack against a Norwegian 
force south of the city, and on the 23d at Dirdal 50 officers and 1,250 
men of the Norwegian 2d and 8th Infantry Regiments surrendered. 
On the 2 1st a motorized patrol, escorting gasoline tank trucks which had 
been dispatched from Oslo a week before, was able to reach Stavanger, 519 

At Kristiansand a northward advance was begun on 13 April. After 
dive bombers were committed at Evjemoen, the training center of the 
Norwegian 3d Division, Norwegian resistance collapsed, and on the 
15th the commanding general offered to negotiate a surrender. Dur- 

" Grvppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, pp. 58-65. 

ss Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 286/40, Befehl fuer den Einiatz der 214. Division in 
Suedwestnorwegen, 21 A AO, m Anlagenband 4 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 19.4.-23 A AO. AOK 
20 E 279/4. 

19 Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, pp. 16, 35. 


ing the following days 240 officers and 2,900 men of the division 
surrendered. 60 

In a little more than three weeks, Group XXI had taken possession 
of southern and central Norway north to Grong and Namsos. It had 
smashed the main forces of the Norwegian Army and had defeated two 
strong Allied landing teams. But that was merely the prelude. In the 
far north, at Narvik, the crucial battle of the campaign was just 

Hubatsch, op. cit., p. 207. Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, pp. 19, 53. 


Chapter 5 
Operations in Northern Norway 

The Siege of Narvik 

Narvik was the grand prize of the Norwegian campaign. The Brit- 
ish conviction that, come what might, Narvik would fall to them had 
been the first premise of all the Allied plans concerning Scandinavia. 
How deep that conviction was and how painful it was to give up were 
demonstrated when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the House 
of Commons twelve hours after the German landing that it was "very 
possible" to believe a mistake had been made in transmitting the report 
and, consequently, the place in question might not be Narvik at all but 
Larvik, a small town on the coast south of Oslo. 1 For Germans to take 
the rest of Norway and lose Narvik was, in effect, to lose the campaign. 

Were it not for the single-track Lapland Railroad, which threads its 
way out of the city eastward to the Swedish ore fields, Narvik would 
easily have ranked among the least desirable pieces of real estate in the 
world. The city occupies a small area of comparatively level land at 
the tip of a stubby peninsula flanked on the north by the Rombaks Fiord 
and on the south by the Beis Fiord. The railroad follows the south shore 
of the Rombaks Fiord along a narrow shelf, interspersed with numerous 
tunnels, cut into the solid rock of the mountains which slope sharply 
down to the water line on both sides of the peninsula. Away from the 
city and railroad the arctic wilderness stretches in all directions, a tangle 
of hills, depressions, and irregularly shaped plateaus frequently topped 
by peaks reaching heights of four thousand feet and more. In winter 
the landscape is white except on steep slopes where the wind, blowing 
the snow away, exposes the bare rock underneath; in summer it is gray 
with narrow fringes of green along the shores of the fiords where stunted 
birches grow near the water and grass and mosses cover the banks to 
elevations of several hundred feet. 

In the second week of April 1940 winter still held Narvik tightly in 
its grip. The snow was three to four feet deep in the city and along the 
shore. In the inland valleys it had accumulated to depths of eight feet 
and more. During the coming weeks the blizzards and later the cold 

1 Deny, op. cit., p. 66. 


spring rains were to create onerous conditions for combat; but the hard- 
ships were all in the future as the 3d Mountain Division troops marched 
into the prosperous, modern city which in recent years had even acquired 
a reputation as a winter resort. The division headquarters was set up 
in the top three floors of the Hotel Royal, the best of several hotels in 

On 14 April, after the sinking of the last destroyers, Dietl had at his 
disposal 4,600 men, 2,600 of them members of the destroyer crews 
armed with Norwegian weapons from stocks captured at Elvegaards- 
moen. Two battalions of mountain troops were established 17 miles 
north of Narvik along the line Laberget-Elvenes-Oalage. The remain- 
ing battalion took up positions in Narvik, and a company held Ankenes 
on the south shore of the Beis Fiord. The naval personnel were de- 
ployed along the north and east shores of the Herjangs Fiord, in Narvik, 
and along the railroad, which the Germans occupied up to the Swedish 
border on the 16th after minor skirmishes with small parties of Nor- 
wegian troops. On the 14th ten Ju 52's, which landed on the ice of 
Hartvig Lake, brought in a battery of mountain artillery, but four days 
later Hitler ordered that no new forces were to be committed. 2 

The only supplies immediately available at Narvik were those from 
the captured depot at Elvegaardsmoen and those which could be sal- 
vaged from the Jan Wellem. Two days after the landing the German 
Government began negotiating for permission to use the Swedish rail- 
ways, and on 26 April the first train carrying rations, medical supplies, 
and a number of radio technicians arrived. Although repeatedly 
pressed, the Swedish Government did not permit the transport of am- 
munition but later allowed some shipments of clothing and ski equip- 
ment. In addition, 230 specialists of various kinds were brought in via 
Sweden in the course of the campaign. All of the ammunition and 
substantial quantities of rations and other supplies had to be delivered 
by air drops. Sea planes could land occasionally in defiance of the 
patrolling British warships, but after the ice on the Hartvig Lake began 
to thaw, which occurred before the ten Ju 52's mentioned above were 
able to take off, the landing of other aircraft was impossible. As the 
campaign progressed it developed that the difficulties of moving supplies 
within the 3d Mountain Division zone were almost as great as those 
encountered in bringing them in from outside. The divisional supply 
base was established at Bjornf jell just west of the Swedish border, and 
the railroad could be used only as far as Hundalen. From there supplies 
for Narvik had to be carried 15 miles along the railroad right of way 
which was constantly exposed to shelling from British warships. After 
the ferry which operated between Narvik and Oyjord on the north shore 

2 Chef OKW, WFA, Nr. 102/40, an Gruppe XXI, 18.4.40, in Anlagenband 3 zum 
Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 13.4.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 279/3. Gruppe XXI, Taegliche 
Meldungen, loc. cit., p. 19. 3. Geb. Div. K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., p. 8. 


J. Sohueren 

Map 7 


of Rombaks Fiord was sunk on 20 April, supplies for the troops north 
of Narvik had to be carried over the mountains from Bjornf jell. 3 

On 14 April the British advance party of two companies of Scots 
Guards arrived off Narvik in the cruiser Southhampton and joined a 
naval force of cruisers and destroyers under the command of Admiral 
of the Fleet the Earl of Cork and Orrery. Lord Cork wanted to stage 
a landing at Narvik on the morning of the 15th with 350 Scots Guards 
and 200 sailors and marines but abandoned the idea after the Army 
commander, Major General P. J. Mackesy, raised objections. On the 
16th Mackesy rejected a second proposal for a landing on the grounds 
of need to land his weapons, deep snow on the beaches, and lack of 
knowledge of the condition of the Germans. By the afternoon of the 
17th both the Admiralty and the War Office were pressing for an im- 
mediate assault, but the general continued to have misgivings and 
favored, instead, an attempt to induce the Germans to surrender by 
means of a naval bombardment. 4 On the morning of the 24th a battle- 
ship, two cruisers, and half a dozen destroyers shelled Narvik foi three 
hours. At first the Germans expected a landing, and Dietl informed 
Group XXI that, if the city could not be held, he intended to fall back 
eastward along the railroad. In the end, the only tangible result of the 
bombardment was that Dietl decided to shift the nonessential troops 
out of the city and, at the urging of his staff, moved his command post 
to Sildvik, a railroad station near the eastern end of the Rombaks Fiord. 5 

Winston Churchill has charged Mackesy with a dilatoriness not 
warranted by the circumstances; on the other hand, Derry, the official 
British historian, is inclined to see a considerable amount of justification 
in the general's determination to avoid the risks of an immediate landing 
and develop, instead, a deliberate and scientific campaign. In view of 
present knowledge it seems that a landing during the first days would 
have had a good chance of success since Dietl had only one battalion 
of mountain troops in Narvik to oppose two British battalions at hand on 
the 15th and an additional battalion which arrived on the 16th. G The 
two German battalions stationed north of the city could not have crossed 
the Rombaks Fiord to enter into the fighting. Of the destroyer crews 
about 1,000 were being held at Hundalen, and there is no indication 
that many of the remainder were in Narvik or even organized and ready 
for combat. The opinion of the 3d Mountain Division at the end of 
the campaign was that in the first weeks the Allies far overestimated 
the German strength. 7 

3 3. Geb. Div., Ib, Bericht ueber die Erfahrungen auf dem Gebiet der Versorgung 
waehrend des Einsatzes in Norwegen, 7.7.40, in Erfahrungsberichte der Divisionen. 
AOK 20 E 279/16. 

4 Derry, op. cit., pp. 146—55. 

s Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., p. 42. Dietl, op. cit., p. 112. 
6 Derry, op. cit., pp. 148, 1 53. 

' 3. Geb. Div., Ia, Erfahrungsbericht, in Erfahrungsberichte der Divisionen, 16.7.40. 
AOK 20 E 279/16. 


While the possibilities of a landing were being debated, the British 
force established its main base and headquarters at Harstad on Hinnoy 
Island, already the headquarters of the Norwegian 6th Division; and 
the three British battalions were distributed at several points on the 
mainland but not in position to make contact with the Germans. The 
Norwegians had four battalions north of the German positions in the 
Elvenes area. General Mackesy planned a two-pronged drive from the 
north to take Oyjord and cut the railroad at Hundalen and an advance 
along the south shore of Ofot Fiord to Ankenes as the initial phase of 
his advance to Narvik. 8 

On the 24th, in the first land action of the campaign, the four Nor- 
wegian battalions attacking at Gratangen near Elvenes were repulsed 
and lost the better part of one battalion. The arrival on the same day 
of three battalions of French Chasseurs Alpins enabled Mackesy to 
begin developing his attack. One of the French battalions landed on 
the 28th in Gratangen Fiord for an advance southeastward through 
the Labergdal. Meanwhile, the strength of the Norwegian force had 
been increased, and it was organized into two brigades, one with three 
battalions and a mountain battery and the other with two battalions, 
a mountain battery, and a motorized battery. The latter, reinforced 
by two French companies, took up the advance from Elvenes to Bjerkvik 
while the former worked its way eastward into the mountains to attack 
on the German right flank along the Swedish border. The advance 
was not rapid and by 10 May had covered only five miles. South of 
Narvik on 29 April a British battalion, replaced several days later by 
one of the French mountain battalions, landed west of Haakvik to 
attack Ankenes. There too, the attack made little progress. 9 

On 5 May, when Dietl's force returned to the command of Group 
XXI after having been under the immediate command of the OKW 
since 15 April, the 3d Mountain Division reported that the main threat 
north of Narvik was seen as coming from the Norwegian brigade on 
the right flank. It could turn westward and cut off the two German 
battalions or drive straight to the south to the railroad at Bjornf jell, but 
because of the slow and methodical character of the Norwegian opera- 
tions Dietl was not greatly concerned. The additional danger of an 
Allied landing in the Herjangs Fiord was foreseen. Narvik was being 
held by a mountain battalion and approximately three naval companies 
while one mountain company defended Ankenes. The railroad, which 
provided the only route from Narvik to the rear, was held by naval 
personnel but was exposed day and night to fire from enemy destroyers 
which used their heavy guns against anything that moved along the 
railroad. In Narvik the Germans had blown up the piers and other 
installations necessary for the shipment of ore so that the city could be 

Deny, op. cit., pp. 154-56. 
Derry, op. cit., pp. 157—59. 


evacuated on short notice. The impression at Dietl's headquarters 
was that the Allied force would not undertake a major operation against 
the city itself until they had completed their preparations down to the 
last detail and probably not until the snow had melted and the con- 
dition of the terrain had become more favorable. 10 Dietl intended to 
hold his advanced positions in the north and at Narvik as long as possible 
because of the difficulty of organizing a defense in the mountains to 
the rear. 11 On 6 May, however, in the light of the developing enemy 
attack, Group XXI viewed the position of the Narvik force as critical; 
and on the 8th after the loss of the Leigestind and Roasme, two com- 
manding heights east of the Elvenes— Bjerkvik road, Dietl reported that 
he could hold his new positions to the rear only if reinforcements were 
forthcoming and if the Air Force gave strong support. 12 

In early May the build-up of the Allied force continued. Two bat- 
talions of the French Foreign Legion arrived on the 6th and a Polish 
brigade of four battalions on the 9th. Lord Cork had at his disposal, 
in addition to cruisers and destroyers, a battleship and an aircraft carrier. 
With five antiaircraft batteries at hand and six more due to follow, the 
troops investing Narvik were not as helpless in the face of German air 
power as the forces at Namsos and Andalsnes had been. Nevertheless, 
in good weather they had to contend with several air raids a day. The 
first substantial German success came on 4 May with the sinking of 
the Polish destroyer Grom. Before the end of the month, the Germans 
had sunk the antiaircraft cruiser Curlew and the transport Chrobry and 
damaged a number of ships, among them the battleship Resolution. 13 

The next step in the Allied plan was to stage a landing at the northern 
end of the Herjangs Fiord which would be coupled with a renewed 
French and Norwegian thrust south from the Elvenes area. The Nor- 
wegian brigade operating along the Swedish border would maintain its 
pressure on the German right flank. The landing, to be executed by 
two battalions of the Foreign Legion and five light tanks, was timed 
for midnight on the 13th after a preliminary bombardment by a battle- 
ship, two cruisers, and five destroyers. 14 

At the German headquarters the appearance of the warships was 
correctly taken to indicate a landing in the Herjangs Fiord, where the 
only force which could be committed was the weak naval battalion 
already stationed at Bjerkvik and along the east shore. The possibility 
of a landing at Narvik was also taken into account; and the question 
of abandoning the city without fight arose; but Dietl decided that, al- 
though possession of the city had no decisive military significance, he 

10 Gruppe XXI, Chief, Lfd. Nr. 8, Auszug aus einem Bericht der Gruppe Narvik 
von 5.5.40, in Anlagenband 12 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3.9.5.-19.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/12. 

11 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B., Narvik, loc. cit., p. 27. 

32 Gruppe XXXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 80, 88. 

13 Derry, op. cit., pp. 192, 206. 

14 Derry, op. cit., pp. 196-99. 


would have to resist for the sake of troop morale and to deny the Allies 
a cheap victory out of which they could make propaganda. 

At Bjerkvik, where the French troops went ashore at about 0200 on 
13 May, the naval battalion, badly shaken by the bombardment, gave 
ground quickly, abandoning most of its machine guns in the process. 
A small screening force of mountain troops thrown into the area west 
of Hartvig Lake managed to delay the enemy advance temporarily but 
could not prevent his taking Elvegaardsmoen. On the Bjerkvik— Oyjord 
road a naval company abandoned its positions before coming under fire, 
thereby opening the route by which French troops occupied Oyjord 
before the end of the day. During the morning Dietl ordered the moun- 
tain battalions to draw back to a line from the Mebyf jeldet to the Store- 
balak, but it was doubtful whether the line could be established or held 
because of the threat deep in the almost undefended left flank at Oyjord. 
Fortunately for the Germans, the Allies could not effect a junction of 
their forces on the Elvenes-Bjerkvik road until the afternoon of the 14th. 
This gave the mountain troops time to withdraw southeastward. On 
the German right flank the Norwegian brigade began an advance which 
was to make good progress during the following days. 15 

On the evening of the 13th, Group XXI informed the OKW that 
the situation at Narvik was critical. Dietl reported that for even part of 
his troops to retreat southward toward Bodo was out of the question be- 
cause of their exhausted condition. He intended, if the enemy offensive 
continued, to give up Narvik and hold a bridgehead on the railroad ; but 
the prerequisite for that undertaking was speedy reinforcement of the 
front north of Narvik; otherwise, there was no other possibility than to 
cross the border into Sweden. Group XXI, reporting to the OKW, 
requested permission for Dietl to take his troops into Sweden in case 
enemy action made it necessary. 16 

By the night of 1 3 May all that was left for the Germans at Narvik was 
to fight for time, on the slim chance that a miracle might yet spare 
them the disgrace of having to take refuge in Sweden. The German of- 
fensive against the Low Countries and France had started three days 
earlier, but it was too early to predict its effect, if any, on the Allied 
operation at Narvik. On 4 May Group XXI had started the 2d Moun- 
tain Division on the long march northward from the Trondheim area. 
The division had made surprisingly good progress, but it was still 180 
miles south of Narvik. Group XXI was almost helpless; the most it 
could do was send some reinforcements, not enough to turn the tide or, 
for that matter, even to keep the resistance alive much longer. 

After the first wave of panic had subsided, Falkenhorst, on 15 May, 
asked Hitler for a parachute battalion to be sent to Narvik. To justify 
the request, he argued that the operations of the 2d Mountain Division 

15 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., pp. 38-40. Deny op. cit., p. 199. 
18 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 2/40, an OKW, Abt. L. 13.5.40, in Anlagenband 12 zum 
Ktb. 2 u. 3,9.5.-19.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/12. 


north of Trondheim would become a mere waste of strength if Narvik 
were given up and that it was necessary to hold a beachhead in the 
north as long as possible for political and prestige reasons and to tie 
down Allied land and sea forces. 17 On the 14th, Group XXI had 
sent a token reinforcement of 66 parachute troops — all it could muster 
in Norway. During the remainder of the month and in the first week 
of June a parachute battalion and two mountain companies which had 
been given brief parachute training were dropped at Narvik. The 
reinforcements totaled about 1,050 men, including 160 specialists who 
arrived by train. 18 

While the pressure for reinforcements was greatest, Group XXI, 
through a misunderstanding, was making arrangements for evacuation 
of the destroyer crews via Sweden. Partly because the end was believed 
near in Narvik and partly because Dietl, after the events of 13 May, 
had described the naval personnel as "useless for combat and a danger 
to our troops," permission was secured from Sweden on the 19th for 
the crews to be evacuated as shipwrecked sailors. During the following 
weeks Group XXI persistently urged the evacuation while Dietl, who in 
the meantime had changed his mind, argued that the sailors were indis- 
pensable for the movement of supplies within the division zone. 19 

On the 15th the 3d Mountain Division viewed its situation as 
becoming increasingly doubtful because of the threat to the northern 
front. It saw the only possibility of improvement in effective air sup- 
port directed against the land and sea targets. Dietl also reported that 
unless reinforcements were made available immediately he would be 
compelled to allow his troops in the north to fall back, which would 
inevitably lead to the loss of Narvik. 20 Two days later the situation on 
the right flank along the Swedish border was still completely confused, 
with the Norwegians pushing across the tactically important Kuberg 
Plateau and enemy pressure continuing strong all along the front. South 
of Narvik, where three Polish battalions replaced the French and Brit- 
ish battalions in the Ankenes area on 16 May, defense was becoming 
increasingly difficult. 

On the 21st, judging that an Allied breakthrough was possible at any 
moment, Dietl decided to withdraw his north front and take up posi- 
tions in a shortened line. The withdrawal was executed the next day, 
and the line was anchored near the Swedish border 7 miles north of 
the Bjornf jell and on the Rombaks Fiord 1 2 miles west of the Bjornf jell. 21 

17 v. Falkenhorst, an Fuehrerhauptquartier, Generaloberst Keitel, 15.5 AO, in 
Anlagenband 12 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 9.5.-19.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/12. 

18 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., passim. 

19 Dietl, an Gruppe XXI, 15.5.40, in Anlagenband 7 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 9.5.-16.5.40. 
AOK 20 E 279/7. Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 595/40 and Nr. 673/40, an Oberst Buschen- 
hagen, Drontheim, 18 and 19.5.40, in Anlagenband 8 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 17.5- 
26.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/8. 

20 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., p. 42. Dietl an Gruppe XXI, 15.5.40, in 
Anlagenband 7 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 9.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/7. 

21 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., pp. 42, 44, 45, 48. 


The new line held while the Allied command prepared the final assault 
on Narvik. 

The Advance of the 2d Mountain Division Toward Narvik 

On 4 May, the day the German troops advancing north of Trond- 
heim reached Grong and Namsos, Group XXI issued orders, based on 
an estimate of weak enemy forces to the north, giving the 2d Mountain 
Division the mission of pushing northward from Grong via Mosjoen to 
Bodo and from there attempting to establish overland contact with the 
force at Narvik. The straight-line distance to Narvik was about 300 
miles through thinly settled, snow-covered, mountainous territory deeply 
cut by the fiords. The roads were poor, not continuous, and for the 
last 85 miles nonexistent. On the 4th Generalleutnant Valentin Feur- 
stein, Commanding General, 2d Mountain Division, arrived at Trond- 
heim where the troops immediately at his disposal amounted to two 
battalions plus one company of mountain infantry, one battery of moun- 
tain artillery, and an engineer platoon. The main force of the 2d 
Mountain Division, which had begun leaving Germany at the end of 
April, was still in transit. Motorized units and the mountain regiment 
which had executed the landing at Trondheim were to be attached to 
Feurstein's force as they became available. 22 

On the Allied side the prospect of a German advance northward was 
regarded with the strongest misgivings because of the possibility that 
reinforcements could be brought to Narvik but, above all, because the 
reach of the German Air Force would be extended toward the vulner- 
able Allied bases in the north. The intention was to delay and, if pos- 
sible, stall the German advance. At the time of the evacuation of 
Namsos it had been proposed that part of the force withdraw overland, 
fighting a rearguard action between Grong and Mosjoen; but the plan 
was dropped after the command at Namsos insisted that the terrain was 
impassable. Instead, 100 Chasseurs Alpins were transferred by sea 
from Namsos to Mosjoen. The Allied plan as it finally developed was 
to create centers of resistance at Mosjoen, and Bodo, and, since the 
operations at Andalsnes and Namsos had demonstrated the dangers of 
committing large forces without air protection, it was decided to em- 
ploy only small, self-sufficient units. Beginning in mid-April, five In- 
dependent Companies of 20 officers and 270 men each had been created. 
They were expected to live off the country and engage the cooperation 
of the local population in guerilla warfare. Brought from England, two 
companies landed at Mosjoen replacing the Chasseurs Alpins; one 
landed at Mo and two at Bodo, where they joined a company of Scots 

22 Gruppe XXI, la, an Kdr. 2. Geb. Div., 6.5.40 {muendlich 4.5.1700), in Anlaeen- 
band 6 zum KTB. 2 u. 3, 1.4.-8.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/6. 


Map 8 

Guards sent from the Narvik area. The Norwegian troops at hand 
amounted to one reserve battalion and one battalion which was with- 
drawing from Grong to Mosjoen. 23 

Starting from Grong on 5 May the German mountain troops covered 
nearly 90 miles in four days over terrain which the British command 

23 Derry, op. cit., pp. 166, 168, 17.7-79. Roskill, op. cit., p. 191. 

at Namsos had judged to be impassable. On the morning of the 10th 
British and Norwegian troops staged brief resistance 10 miles south of 
Mosjoen and then withdrew to positions beyond the town with the 
intention of fighting a series of delaying actions between Mosjoen and 
Mo. That afternoon the Germans executed operation Wildente. 
Aboard the coastal steamer Nord Norge a company was taken from 
Trondheim to the Hemnesoy Peninsula in the fiord at Mo. Seaplanes 
brought in another half company. The landing was a success despite 
the fact that it was contested at the quay by British troops and that the 
steamer was sunk by two British destroyers which appeared on the 
scene. The operation apparently Was dictated mainly by the peculiari- 
ties of the geography of northern Norway. The road north from Mos- 
joen ended at Elsfiorden on the Els Fiord, and the Hemnesoy Peninsula 
dominated the water route to Mo. A road via Korgen and Finneid 
to Mo was separated from the Mosjoen-Elsfiorden road by a high ridge 
and was dominated at Finneid by the Hemnesoy. Wildente opened 
the route to Mo for the Germans, but it also came as a calamity for the 
British companies at Mosjoen since it cut their route of retreat and ended 
all plans for contesting the ground north of Mosjoen to Mo. The 
British abandoned their positions and were evacuated by ship to Bodo 
while the Norwegian battalion, which was forced to abandon most of 
its equipment, retreated overland to Mo, 24 where the British managed to 
hold open the road through Finneid past the Hemnesoy Peninsula just 
long enough for the battalion to pass through. 

On the 1 1th the German column entered Mosjoen and received orders 
to advance as quickly as possible to Hemnesoy. By the 15 th the Ger- 
mans were in Elsfiorden; and, while an attempt was made to improvise 
a ferry for transport to Finneid, three and a half companies worked their 
way across the mountains from Elsfiorden to Korgen and thence along 
the road to Finneid. The British, in the meantime, had brought three 
companies of Scots Guards to Mo in addition to the Independent Com- 
pany already there and had established a strong defensive position at 
Stien, eight miles northeast of Finneid. After assembling their forces at 
Finneid on the 1 6th and 1 7th, the Germans went over to the attack on the 
afternoon of the 17th. Finding the British position protected by a small 
river, the Germans marched eastward and attacked the left flank while 
parachute troops were dropped to develop a secondary flank attack. 
The fighting continued throughout the short night, and the British 
began to fall back about 0200. During the night the British units 

24 Holzinger, Hauptman 1 ./138, Gefechtsbericht des Unternehmens Wildente vom 
8.4.1940 2230 bis zum 15.5.1940 1900 Uhr, 17.5.40 and Rudolf, Oberleutnant 
7./138, Gefechtsbericht des Unternehmens "Wildente'' vom 10.5. 1600 Uhr bis 11.5. 
0300 Uhr, in Anlagenband 13 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 20.5.-31.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/13. 
Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., p. 92. Derry, op. cit., pp. 180-82. 


Waiting to attack, German troops fighting in mountainous terrain take cover behind 

a rock, 

received orders to retire north of Mo, and at 2000 on the 1 8th the Ger- 
mans occupied the town."' 

To hold Bodo and the territory north of Mo, the British had two 
infantry battalions, four Independent Companies, and two batteries 
of artillery at Bodo and a battalion of Scots Guards (brought up to 
strength by reinforcements from Bodo) and an Independent Company 
in the vicinity of Mo, a total of about 4,500 men. Of Norwegian 
troops, there were approximately a battalion in the Mo area and a bat- 
talion (transferred from Bardufoss) at Bodo."' 1 The German force under 
General Feurstein, which changed almost daily as new elements arrived, 
on 15 May consisted of six battalions of mountain infantry, four bat- 
teries of artillery, a divisional reconnaissance battalion, an engineer bat- 
talion, a company of motorcycle troops, a bicycle squadron, a mortar 
battery, and a platoon of tanks. The German troops probably totaled 
about 6,000 men, but not all were committed in the assault, 117 

The Scots Guards fought the first delaying action north of Mo in the 
vicinity of Krokstrand. The Independent Company had been taken out 
of action and withdrawn northward, and reinforcements were slow in 
arriving because of delays in assembling the forces at Bodo occasioned 
by the sinking of a transport and the grounding of a cruiser carrying 

-'2. Geb. Dirj., Bericht ueber das Vorgehen der Gruppe Sorko von Elifiorden nack 
Mo und die Gsfechte bei Slien und Andfcskaanen,, 19.5 AO, in Anlagenband 12 zrnn 
Ktb, 2 it- 3, 9.5. -19. 5 AO. AOK 20 E 279/12. Derry, op, cit., pp. 182-86. 

^Derry, op. ctf.^pp. 187-92 and 214-15. Roskill, op. cit., p. 192. 

"Gruppe XXI 3 Kraefteeinsatz bei 2- Geb. Div. amd 10.5., 14-.5A0 and Gruppe 
XXI, Bis 15.5. sind Gruppe Feurstein angefuekrt, 15-5.50, in Anlagenband 19 zum 
Ktb, Nr. 2 u. 3, Kriegsglkderungen 1 5.4.-25.5 AO. AOK 20 E 279/19. 


troops. The positions at Krokstrand could only be held for a matter of 
hours, and on the 23d a fresh Independent Company attempted a new 
stand at Viskiskoia. It, too, failed the next afternoon when the Germans 
developed a flank attack which drove back the Independent Company. 
The Scots Guards and other units were then ordered to withdraw as 
fresh troops had occupied positions farther north at Pothus. There an 
infantry battalion and two Independent Companies with some Nor- 
wegian troops managed to hold from the morning of the 25th until 1900 
on the 26th. At Pothus for the first time the British troops had the 
support of two fighter aircraft operating from a newly constructed air- 
strip at Bodo. 28 

On 25 May, while the fighting was in progress at Pothus, the im- 
mediate evacuation of Bodo was ordered. The Allies had decided a 
day earlier to close out their operation against Narvik and therefore 
saw no need to continue tying down the 2d Mountain Division. 29 In 
a week, the British units, with the Germans close behind, fell back to 
Bodo, completing the evacuation on 31 May. 30 At Fauske the German 
force split. One column pushed westward toward Bodo while the other 
continued the northward advance toward Sorfold. The Germans en- 
tered Bodo on the morning of 1 June and reached Sorfold on the follow- 
ing day. 31 At Sorfold the forward elements of the 2d Mountain Division 
were still 85 miles from Narvik, and from there north the route lay 
through a sparsely settled, pathless mountain wilderness. 

Defeat and Victory 

On 24 May the Allied Command in London decided that, because of 
the disastrous situation in France where the battle around Dunkerque 
was entering its final stage, the Narvik operation would have to be 
halted but that the city was to be captured first in order to cover the 
evacuation and ensure destruction of the port. 32 The final assault, origi- 
nally planned for the 21st, was postponed until the 27th, largely to gain 
the advantage of land-based air support from the airfield at Bardufoss 
which came into use on the 21st and where, finally, two squadrons of 
fighters and a squadron of naval amphibians were based. The attack, 
preceded by a cruiser and destroyer bombardment, was to be launched 
straight across the Rombaks Fiord from Oyjord, a distance of about one 
mile. It would be carried out by two battalions of the Foreign Legion 
and one Norwegian battalion supported by two tanks and the fire of 
three batteries of artillery stationed at Oyjord. Simultaneously the Po- 
lish battalions would launch thrusts against Ankenes and toward the 

Derry, op. cit., pp. 189-92. 
Roskill, op. cit., p. 192. 
Derry, op. «'«.,pp. 213-15. 

Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 134—40. 
Churchill, Vol. I, p. 652. 


Map 9 

head of the Beis Fiord while the French and Norwegians kept up pres- 
sure on the northern front. Later a sweeping attack from the south was 
to cut the railroad in the German rear. 33 

The bombardment began at 2340 on the 27th, and the landing fol- 
lowed promptly at midnight. Coming ashore at Orneset, east of Nar- 
vik, the troops attempted to work their way around the slope of the 
Taraldsvikfjell and gain control of the western approaches to the city. 
The Germans, holding the higher ground on the mountain, staged a 
strong resistance and at one time drove the assault force back almost to 
the beach. By holding the Taraldsvikfjell they were able to prevent the 
French and Norwegian battalions from driving straight across the tip of 
the peninsula before the troops in Narvik could withdraw along the 
shore of the Beis Fiord. This they accomplished before noon on the 

At the same time the troops at Ankenes fell back across the Beis Fiord, 
losing some of their boats in the process, and joined the withdrawal. The 

33 Deny, op. cit.,p. 208. 

Polish thrust toward the head of the fiord was held up long enough to 
prevent the cutting off of the troops withdrawing from Narvik. At night 
the Poles made contact with elements of the Foreign Legion in Beisfiord 
Village, but by then the Germans had taken up positions to the north 
and east. 

Although the first German reports mentioned Allied tanks in the at- 
tack on Narvik, it appears that both of the tanks became bogged down 
on the beach and were not brought into action. On the morning of the 
28th German dive bombers damaged the antiaircraft cruiser Cairo, and 
during the succeeding days German aircraft bombed the Allied bases 
at Harstad and Skaanland and brought Narvik under heavy air attack. 84 

After the Allied troops had taken Narvik they pushed eastward 
along the railroad where they had the benefit of supporting fire from 
warships in the fiord. On the 30th they began developing a second- 
ary attack from the south where a force in approximately battalion 
strength moved northeastward across the base of the Narvik Peninsula, 
endangering Sildvik on the railroad and threatening to cut off all the 
German troops farther west. Although Dietl averted that danger by 
throwing a company of parachute troops into the area, there still 
remained the possibility that the Allies might try a similar flanking 
movement farther east. By the 30th Dietl's stocks of rations and am- 
munition were rapidly dwindling since bad weather had (for three 
days) prevented supply flights. The supply situation was to become 
worse as the bad weather persisted. 

The next morning the Norwegians resumed their attack on the right 
flank of the northern front, where the relative quiet of the past few 
days had facilitated the German withdrawal from Narvik. After the 
attack increased in strength throughout the day, forcing the Germans 
off the height (Hill 620) which had formed the eastern anchor of their 
line, Dietl decided to withdraw to a shorter line in order to make some 
reserves available which might be used to stem the threat in the north 
were it to continue to develop. On 1 June he drew the left flank of 
the northern front back to the western slope of the Rauberget and 
pulled the front on the Narvik Peninsula back about a mile, making 
possible the formation of one company of reserves for each battalion. 
With minor changes that line was to hold until the end of the campaign. 35 

On 30 May Group XXI informed Dietl that Hitler had decided the 
Narvik force was to be supported by all possible means. While await- 
ing the support, which would become effective in five or six days, Dietl 
was to hold out as best he could, giving up the railroad if necessary. 
Hitler had ordered the OKL to make strong elements of the 7th Air 
Division available. They were to be committed in conjunction with a 

34 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., pp. 55-58. Derry op. cit., pp. 209-11 and 
217. Dietl, op. cit., pp. 161-68. Gruppe XXI, Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., 
p. 130. 

35 3. Geb. Div., Taegliche Meldungen, loc. cit., pp. 158—64. 


planned naval operation off the north coast of Norway (Operation 
Juno. See pp. 104-108 below) . 36 

The Air Force had for two weeks past displayed increasing reluc- 
tance to participate in the reinforcement of Narvik. On 16 May Hitler 
had ordered Goering to provide gliders for the transport of troops to 
Narvik. Group XXI readied 600 mountain troops ; but, after successive 
delays, Goering on the 29th ordered all the gliders held at Aalborg. A 
Hitler decision on the following day reduced the number of gliders made 
available to six, and those were not committed. 37 The newly promised 
reinforcements, it was decided by 4 June, were to consist of two para- 
chute battalions, a total of 1,800 men, to be brought in over a period of 
a week. On 5 June Group XXI promised an additional 1,000 moun- 
tain troops with parachute training in the near future. None of the 
intended reinforcements were delivered before the end of the 
campaign. 38 

At the beginning of June the OKW planned a new operation for the 
relief of Narvik under the cover-name Naumburg. On 4 June it in- 
formed Group XXI that the intention was to land a strong force in the 
Lyngen Fiord, 90 miles north of Narvik, and from there to drive south- 
ward to attack the rear of the enemy at Narvik. Simultaneously the 
Air Force would take the airfield at Bardufoss, about 60 miles north 
of Narvik, and use it to support the advance. The OKH would furnish 
about 6,000 troops and a dozen tanks to be transported from Germany 
in the fast liners Bremen and Europa. 39 Both Group XXI and the Navy 
believed the operation could succeed, but the Navy thought that the two 
liners, after being escorted to the landing area by warships left at Trond- 
heim following Operation Juno, could not be brought back to Germany 
but would either have to be abandoned or sent to Base North on the 
Soviet arctic coast. 40 On 7 June the OKW was planning to execute the 
operation about 14 days later. 41 

Of the German schemes for bringing aid to Narvik, the one which 
came closest to fruition was Operation Bueffel, conducted by the 2d 
Mountain Division. In the last week of May the division had assembled 
a picked force of 2,500 of its best mountaineers, men who could be ex- 

36 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 1056/40, an Gruppe Narvik, 31.5.40 and OKW, WFA, L, an 
Gruppe XXI, 31.5.40, in Anlagenband 13 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 20.5.-31.5.40. AOK 20 
E 279/13. Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 1040/40, an Gruppe Narvik, 30.5.40, in Anlagen- 
band 10 zum Ktb. Nr. 2 u.3, 27.5.-4.6.40. AOK 20 E 279/10. 

37 OKW, Abt. L. Nr. 0037/40, an Gruppe XXI, 17.5.40, in Anlagenband 8 zum 
Ktb. Nr. 2 u. 3, 17.5.-26.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/8. Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 1021/40, an 
Chef OKW, 29.5.40 and OKW, Abt. L, an Gruppe XXI, 30.5.40, in Anlagenband 
10 zum Ktb. 2 u. 2, 27.5.-4.6.40. AOK 20 E 279/10. 

38 Gruppe XXI, an Gruppe Narvik, 5.6.40, in Anlagenband 14 zum Ktb., 2 u. 3, 
1.6.-14.6.40. AOK 20 E 279/14. 

39 Gruppe XXI, la, Nr. 284/40, Fuehrerweisung vom 5.6.40, in Gruppe XXI- 
Drontheim, Unternehmen "Naumburg." AOK 20 D 279/28. 

40 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, 1, p. 52. 

41 OKW, Heimatstab Nord, la, Aktennotiz ueber Ferngespraech Oberst d. G. 
W arlimont-Major i. G. v. Tippelskirch am 7 Juni 1940, in Gruppe XXI-Drontheim, 
Unternehmen "Naumburg." AOK 20 E 279/28. 


pected to make the final arduous march to Narvik and on arrival be 
capable of engaging in combat. The march, expected to take ten days, 
began at Sorfold on 2 June and continued according to schedule as the 
troops pushed onward in rain, snow, and fog through mud and melting 
snow. The terrain ruled out the use of either pack animals or vehicles, 
and supply was entirely by air drop. Heavy weapons and ammunition 
were to be dropped shortly before the detachment reached Narvik. On 9 
June, after the Allies evacuated Narvik, the advance halted slightly short 
of the halfway point at Hellmobotn. A token force in platoon strength 
continued on to Narvik where it arrived on the 13th. In his final report 
the commanding officer stated that, without doubt, had the situation 
required it, the entire detachment could have completed the march and 
been capable of going into combat. 42 

While the Germans prepared measures for the relief of Narvik, the 
main concern of the Allied command was to keep the evacuation of its 
24,500 men secret until the convoys were at sea. Some supplies, in- 
cluding guns and tanks, were shipped out before the end of May; and 
the first group of troopships loaded 15,000 men on the 4th, 5th, and 
6th of June and sailed on the 7th. The second group took aboard most 
of the remaining troops on the 7 th and 8th and left its rendezvous area 
on the morning of the 9th. The rear guard at Harstad went aboard the 
cruiser Southhampton at 0900 on the 8th. 43 

At the last minute the Norwegian Government, which had been kept 
in the dark about the evacuation until late on 1 June, attempted to 
salvage at least a remnant of its territory by diplomatic means. As 
early as mid-April there had, apparently at German instigation, been 
talk of neutralizing Narvik. At the end of the month the project 
became known as the Mowinckel Plan after the former Norwegian 
Prime Minister L. Mowinckel suggested it to the Swedish Foreign 
Minister in Stockholm. The Swedes took it up but got no encourage- 
ment from the belligerents until after 1 June when, with the evacuation 
impending, the Norwegians approached the Swedish Government. 
The Germans, despite their desperate position at Narvik, accorded the 
matter dilatory treatment. After the Swedish Minister directly pro- 
posed the neutralization of Narvik in a conference on 4 June the State 
Secretary in the German Foreign Ministry deduced that the Allies 
were about to evacuate, but the OKW apparently did not share that 
impression. As late as 7 June the OKW was busy planning Operation 
Naumburg, which could not have been executed before the last week 
of the month. 44 

2. Geb. Div., Ia., Nr. 66/40, an Gruppe XXI, la. 18.6.40 and Gruppe Obstlt. v. 
Hengl, Bericht ueber das Unternehmen Bueffel, 15.6.40, in Anlagenband 15 zum Ktb. 
Nr. 2 u. 3, Erfahrungsberichte d. Gruppe XXI. AOK 20 E 279/15. 

43 Derry op. cit., pp. 218-21. 

44 Derry, op. cit., pp. 1 73-76. Hubatsch, op. cit., p. 253. 


During the first week of June Dietl's sole objective was to hold a 
bridgehead along the Swedish border, no matter how limited, until 
reinforcements could be brought in and the relief operation had time 
to take effect. His stocks of ammunition were running low. Almost 
continuous bad weather after the end of May prevented air supply and 
imposed hardships on his troops who had no shelter in their new po- 
sitions, but it hampered Allied operations as well, with the result that 
the front remained relatively quiet. The Allied evacuation came as a 
surprise and was not discovered until about 1700 on June 8th, There- 
after the Germans quickly reoccupied Narvik. On the following day 
the Norwegian Command signed an armistice which ended the fighting 
in Norway. 45 

After the armistice the Germans quickly established a firm hold on 
northern Norway. In mid-May, to support the advance of the 2d 
Mountain Division, they had begun opening a sea route north of Trond- 
heim. Several small Norwegian bases on the coast and on offshore 
islands were occupied, and at the end of the month the 181st Division 
began Operation Biene, directed against a British communications and 
intelligence center on Alsten Island. 46 By 8 June the coastal waters 
were open to German shipping as far north as Fauske, and at the middle 
of the month the cruiser Nuernberg and two steamers transported the 
second infantry regiment and the artillery regiment of the 3d Mountain 
Division to Narvik and Tromso. 47 

Operation JUNO 

By mid-May the German warships damaged in the April operations 
had been repaired. The Scharnhorst, the Hipper, and the Nuernberg 
were on training cruises in the Baltic, and the Gneisenau was scheduled 
for a shakedown cruise at the end of the month. On 16 May the 
Naval Staff decided that, at the beginning of June, the battleships and 
cruisers could start operating in the sea area between Norway and the 
Shetlands and northward as a diversion and to create difficulties for 
Allied supply movements. During the following days a wide divergence 
of opinion developed between the Naval Staff on the one hand and 
the operating commands, Naval Group West and Fleet Command, on 
the other. The operating commands wanted to conserve their forces 
and believed the chances of success too small to warrant risking the few 
German heavy ships in operations in and beyond the Shetlands-Norway 
passage. But Admiral Raeder and the Naval Staff, probably believing 

is 3. Geb. Div., K.T.B. Narvik, loc. cit., pp. 63-74. Gruppe XXI, Ia, an OKW, L, 
9.6.40, in Anlagenband 14 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 1.6.-14.6.40. AOK 20 E 279/14. 

49 Gruppe XXI, Abt. Ia, Nr. 178/40, Operationsbefehl, 25.5.40, in Anlagenband 
9 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3., 17.5.-25.5.40. AOK 20 E 279/9. 

47 Gruppe XXI, Ia, Nr. 354/40, Befehl fuer Transport der Restteile 3. Geb. Division 
nach Nordnorwegen, 13.6.40, in Anlagenband 14 zum Ktb. 2 u. 3, 1 .6— 14.6.40. 
AOK 20 E 279/14. 


the war was drawing to a close, insisted on adopting aggressive methods 
to prove the worth of the Navy and assure its future development. 48 

On 21 May Raeder informed Hitler that the Scharnhorst and the 
Hipper would be ready for new missions on about 27 May and that the 
Gneisenau would be ready at the beginning of June. His plan was for 
the ships to operate in the northern North Sea and the Arctic Ocean to 
relieve the German land operations in northern Norway and to defend 
the Skagerrak and southern Norway by threatening communications 
between the British Isles and Norway. Operations using Trondheim 
as a base were to be begun later. 49 He also ordered the possibility of 
again using submarines in the Narvik area investigated, but the Com- 
manding Admiral, Submarines, strongly advised against it since the 
brightness of the nights and the enemy's favorable opportunities for 
patrol indicated only slight prospects of success. 50 

On 24 May, with the situation at Narvik deteriorating rapidly, the 
Naval Staff dropped its plans for harassing the Allies' supply lines and 
began to consider means of bringing direct relief to the force at Narvik. 
It concluded that the situation at sea was favorable and that a sortie 
into West Fiord as far as Narvik or into Vaags Fiord as far as Harstad 
was entirely feasible. On the following day it ordered Naval Group 
West to plan an operation along those lines and time it as early as 
possible, sometime after June 2. Group XXI would designate prom- 
ising shore targets. On the 27th Hitler added the mission of opening 
and protecting a coastal supply line for the 2d Mountain Division in 
the Trondheim-Mo-Bodo area. 51 

The order for the operation, to be carried out under the code name 
JUNO by the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the cruiser Hipper, 
and four destroyers, was issued on 29 May. The first and main assign- 
ment was a surprise penetration into And Fiord and Vaags Fiord to 
Harstad and destruction of the bases, transports, and warships found 
there. If reconnaissance reports showed that a sortie into West Fiord 
and Ofot Fiord, possibly as far as Narvik, appeared to offer better 
prospects of success, that was to be carried out as the main assignment. 
The additional task, protection of supply transport from Trondheim to 
Bodo, could be carried out either simultaneously with the main assign- 
ment or after its excution. Trondheim was to be used as a base. The 
Naval Staff indicated that it was thinking not only of a single strike 
against a specific target but also of continuing operations which would 
be carried out over a longer period. 52 The order as delivered to the 
Commanding Admiral, Fleet, Admiral Wilhelm Marschall, set specific 
missions; but in a verbal discussion with Marschall on 31 May Raeder 

Naval War Diary,Vol. 9, pp. 119, 141, 153, 190. 

Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, 1, p. 50. 

Naval War Diary, Vol. 9, p. 201. 

Naval War Diary, Vol. 9, pp. 218-19 and 237. 

Naval War Diary, Vol. 9, pp. 275ff. 


couched the requirements in more general terms, which may have been 
the cause of a serious divergence of views regarding execution of the 
operation which later developed between the Commanding Admiral, 
Fleet, and the Naval Staff. 53 

At 0800 on 4 June the warships steamed out of Kiel. Four supply 
ships had been dispatched under minesweeper escort to Trondheim; 
and two tankers, from which the warships would refuel at sea, were on 
route to the rendezvous points in north Norwegian waters. A day 
earlier observations of lively transport traffic toward Narvik had led 
the Naval Staff to surmise that the Allies were building up their strength 
at Narvik in order to gain a victory there to counterbalance the defeat 
in Flanders. 54 On the 6th the Germans estimated the British naval 
forces in the north Norwegian area at 2 battleships, 1 aircraft carrier, 
4 cruisers, and 15 destroyers. (Actually Lord Cork's force for the 
evacuation amounted only to 2 aircraft carriers, 3 cruisers, and 10 
destroyers.) 55 With no other intelligence or reconnaissance reports at 
his disposal, Admiral Marschall decided on the 6th to time his attack 
on Harstad for the night of the 8/9th. 5f! On the evening of the 6th the 
warships met the tanker Dithmarschen at a position halfway between 
Norway and Iceland and began refueling operations which lasted for 
24 hours. 

On the night of the 7th, the refueling completed, Marschall assembled 
his commanders at a conference aboard the flagship. In the morning 
air reconnaissance had spotted a convoy steaming southward from Nar- 
vik. A second message, received during the conference, reported three 
more groups of ships at sea. From the westward movement of the 
ships Marschall concluded that the British were evacuating Narvik and 
decided that the convoys offered valuable targets. 57 Naval Group West 
and the Naval Staff had not drawn the same conclusion and on being 
informed at 0500 on the 8th of Marschall's intention to attack the con- 
voys instructed him that his main assignment was still to strike at Har- 
stad. An attack on the convoys by the Hipper and the destroyers was 
left to his discretion, although it was believed that such a move would 
reveal the presence of the warships prematurely. 58 

Meanwhile, at 0600, the warships had come across the tanker Oil 
Pioneer and the trawler Juniper and had sunk both before they could 
transmit radio signals. Throughout the morning the search for the con- 
voys continued, and the Scharnhorst and the Hipper launched their 
planes. These reported a convoy consisting of a cruiser and a merchant 
ship to the south and an armed merchant ship and a hospital ship to 
the north. The Hipper set a course to intercept the merchant ship while 

53 Assmann, Campaign in Norway, p. 70. 

54 Naval War Diary, Vol. 10, p. 20. 

B5 Assmann, Campaign in Norway, p. 71. Roskill, op. cit., p. 193. 

50 Derry, op. cit., p. 222. 

67 Assmann, Campaign in Norway, pp. 7 Iff. 

58 Naval War Diary, Vol. 10, p. 68. 


the battleships began a search for the convoy. The merchant ship, 
which proved to be the troop transport Orama, traveling empty except 
for 1 00 German prisoners, was sunk and its last radio signals were suc- 
cessfully jammed. The hospital ship Atlantis was not attacked. Ob- 
serving the regulations, it did not transmit a report; therefore, the pres- 
ence of the German ships was not revealed until 24 hours later when 
the Atlantis gave a visual message to the battleship Valiant. 

Shortly after 1300 Marschall released the Hipper and the four de- 
stroyers to Trondheim for refueling and to take over the task of opening 
a route for Army supplies along the coast from Trondheim to Bodo. 
At about the same time Marschall decided to abandon the search for 
the convoy and to proceed with the battleships into the Harstad-Tromso 
area where radio intercepts indicated the presence of two British aircraft 
carriers. At 1645 the masthead of a warship was sighted which on 
closer approach was identified as a large aircraft carrier, the Glorious, 
escorted by two destroyers, later identified as the Ardent and the Acasta. 
The Glorious, proceeding to Scapa independently because it was short 
of fuel, had no security patrols in the air. The German ships opened 
fire three quarters of an hour later, and the first shells put an end to 
attempts to arm and launch the carrier's torpedo bombers. In an action 
lasting about an hour and a half the Germans sank the carrier and both 
destroyers; but, shortly before the end, the Acasta, the last to go down, 
secured a torpedo hit aft on the Scharnhorst which put the after turret 
out of action and flooded two engine rooms. Again the British ships 
failed to give the alarm. Messages from the Glorious were jammed, 
and neither of the destroyers attempted to use its radio, with the result 
that the first news of the battle came on the afternoon of the following 
day when the German claims were broadcast. 59 

With the damage to the Scharnhorst reported as serious and her speed 
reduced to 20 knots, Marschall broke off the operation and intended 
to steer for home immediately but Naval Group West ordered him to put 
into Trondheim instead, where the ships arrived on the afternoon of 
the 9th. The first action reports brought expressions of satisfaction 
from the Naval Staff which dispatched the cruiser Nuernberg to join 
the operation; but on the 9th MarschalPs conduct of the operation was 
subjected to severe criticism. The Naval Staff, apparently still not 
aware that the Allied evacuation had ended on the night of 8-9 June, 
maintained that the admiral should have adhered to the plan to attack 
Harstad and that the encounter with the Glorious was a piece of pure 
luck. In the belief that the evacuation was still in progress it ordered 
Marschall, on the afternoon of the 9th, to resume operations as soon as 
possible, if necessary with the Gneisenau alone. The next morning 
Marschall put to sea with the Gneisenau, the Hipper, and the destroyers 

Assmann, Campaign in Norway, pp. 72-73. 


but returned to Trondheim that night on instructions from Naval Group 

During the succeeding days the Naval Staff, which continued to urge 
aggressive action while the admiral wanted to conserve his limited forces, 
became increasingly critical of the inactivity of the Fleet. Finally, 
Marschall requested relief on the grounds of illness, which occasioned 
further delays until 20 June when the new Commanding Admiral, 
Vizeadmiral Guenther Luetjens, sailed at 1600 with the Gneisenau, the 
Hipper, and one destroyer for a thrust into northern waters and the 
Iceland area. Seven hours later the Gneisenau was hit by a torpedo 
from a British submarine, whereupon the ships put back into Trond- 
heim. With both of its battleships damaged (the Scharnhorst had 
started home on the 20th) the Naval Staff regarded its hopes for opera- 
tions in the northern waters as completely frustrated. After temporary 
repairs had been made, the Gneisenau with the Hipper, the Nuernberg, 
and the destroyers returned to Kiel on 28 July. 60 

While Juno was still in progress the OKW had ordered conversion 
of the liners Bremen and Europa as troopships completed with the in- 
tention of using them in a projected occupation of Iceland, to be exe- 
cuted under the code name Ikarus. The Naval Staff saw no advan- 
tages in the occupation since Germany could not control the sea around 
Iceland and use of the island as a naval base was out of the question; 
but it believed the operation, although risky, was technically possible if 
it were timed for after September, when the period of longer nights set 
in. The damage the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau had suffered off 
Norway, however, reduced the prospects of an early execution, and 
Ikarus was shelved as a more ambitious undertaking, the invasion of 
England, came to the fore. 61 

60 Naval War Diary, Vol. 10, pp. 68-69, 77, 78, 103, 116, 171, 182-83. Hubatsch, 
op. cit., pp. 241ff. 

61 Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, 1, pp. 55, 60. Naval War Diary, Vol. 10, pp. 103, 153. 


Chapter 6 
The Campaign in Norway — Summary 

In comparison with the expenditures of men and materiel which 
became commonplace later in the war the Norwegian campaign was 
minor. It cost Germany 1,317 killed, 1,604 wounded, and 2,375 lost 
at sea or otherwise missing. The British lost 1,896 men in ground 
fighting and upwards of 2,500 more at sea. The Norwegian losses 
numbered 1,335 men and those of the French and Poles 530. The 
campaign cost the German Air Force 127 combat aircraft as opposed 
to 87 Allied planes according to German estimates, which do not in- 
clude the 25 planes which went down with the aircraft carrier Glorious. 
In the fighting at sea Germany sacrificed 1 heavy and 2 light cruisers, 
10 destroyers, 1 torpedo boat, 6 submarines, and 15 small craft. The 
British lost 1 aircraft carrier, 1 cruiser, 1 antiaircraft cruiser, 7 destroyers, 
and 4 submarines while the French and Poles lost 1 destroyer and 1 
submarine each. 1 Of the losses the only ones of major significance were 
those sustained by the German Navy. It had lost the new heavy cruiser 
Bluecher; and at the end of June, after the Scharnhorst and the Gneise- 
nau had been damaged, Germany had only 1 heavy cruiser, 2 light 
cruisers, and 4 destroyers fit for action. In the anxious days of the 
summer of 1940 this was a source of some comfort to the British. Win- 
ston Churchill has described it as a "fact of major importance poten- 
tially affecting the whole future of the war." 2 On the other hand, 
the Norwegian campaign constituted the high point in the German 
Navy's exploitation of its surface forces. 

As an isolated military operation the German occupation of Norway 
was an outstanding success. Carried out in the teeth of vastly superior 
British sea power, it was, as Hitler said, "not only bold, but one of the 
sauciest undertakings in the history of modern warfare." 3 Well planned 
and skillfully executed, it showed the Wehrmacht at its best; nevertheless, 
some of the faults which were later to contribute greatly to the German 
defeat were already present, although not yet prominent enough to in- 

1 Die Berichte des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, 1 September 1939 bis 31 
Dezember 1940 (Berlin, 1941), p. 247. Derry, op. cit., p. 230. 

2 Churchill, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 657. 

3 Gruppe XXI, Notiz fuer das Kriegstagebuch, 1.4.40, in Anlagenband 1 zum 
K.T.B. Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52, 2.20.-18.4.40. AOK 20 E 180/7. 


fluence the outcome of the campaign. For success the operation de- 
pended heavily on daring and surprise combined with lack of prepared- 
ness and indecision on the part of the enemy. Those elements won 
campaigns but were not enough to win the war. The campaign also 
revealed two serious defects in Hitler's personal leadership : his tendency 
to lose his nerve in a crisis and his persistent meddling in the details of 

To some extent Weseruebung gave evidence of Hitler's fatal weak- 
ness, his inability to keep his commitments within the bounds of his re- 
sources. Most German authorities still contend that Germany's stra- 
tegic interests in Scandinavia and the existence of Allied intentions to 
open an offensive there created a compelling necessity for German action ; 
but two who qualify as experts of the first rank have concluded that 
Weseruebung was not the sole solution for Germany and probably not 
the best. General der Artillerie a.D. Walter Warlimont has pointed out 
that even if the Allies had been able to establish themselves in Norway 
they would have been forced to relinquish their hold there once the 
invasion of France started and that, if it were still necessary, the occupa- 
tion of Norway could have been accomplished much more cheaply after 
the campaign in France 4 Professor Walther Hubatsch in his history of 
the Norwegian campaign reaches essentially the same conclusion and 
adds the observation that Germany "undoubtedly" had the strength at 
that time to force the Allies back out of Scandinavia. He observes, also, 
that in Scandinavia the Allies would have had to contend with opposi- 
tion from the Soviet Union as well as Germany. 5 These views find fur- 
ther support in the official British historian's statement that "given the 
political situation of 1939-40 British intervention in some form was in- 
evitable; and given the paucity of our then resources in men and arms, 
a more or less calamitous issue from it was likewise inevitable." 6 Of 
course, the clock cannot be set back, and the function of history is not to 
speculate on what might have been; still, although the contentions of 
Warlimont and Hubatsch may benefit from hindsight, they reflect a 
strong body of opinion which existed in the German Command at the 
time and which, in essence, opposed the then growing tendency to plunge 
in with a full-scale offensive at any point which was or might be threat- 
ened. It needs also to be pointed out in this connection that the counter- 
argument, namely, that Germany acted out of compulsion, rests in large 
part on the reading of a cause and effect relationship into a coincidence. 

To return to the firmer ground of tangible gains, Weseruebung 
brought Germany control of its supply line for Swedish iron ore (later 
also for Finnish nickel) , a number of new naval and air bases, and some 
other economic advantages, mostly minor, such as the local production 

4 Walter Warlimont, Gutachten zu der Kriegstagebuch-Ausarbeitung OKW/WFSt 
"Der noerdliche Kriegssachauplatz" p. 19. MS # C-099 p. 1. OCMH. 
B Hubatsch, op. cit., pp. 26 Iff. 
8 Derry, op. cit., p. 246. 


of Norwegian metals and ores. The naval and air bases somewhat 
improved the German position with respect to the British Isles, increased 
the chances to break out into the Atlantic with raiders, and later made 
possible air and sea attacks on the Allied Murmansk convoys. A 
decisive improvement, particularly in the naval situation, was not 
achieved. Germany could still be shut off from the open sea, and for 
the Navy the losses in ships sustained during Weseruebung offset the 
advantages gained in the bases. 

From the point of view of military operations two features of the 
Norwegian campaign stand out: (1) it was the first joint operation 
involving all three branches of the armed forces, and ( 2 ) it proved that, 
under certain circumstances, superior air power could be used to 
neutralize superior sea power. 

As an armed forces operation, the campaign revealed that neither side 
had developed a command organization suited to the direction of 
large-scale joint operations. On the German side a projected armed 
forces command gave way at an early stage to independent service 
commands coordinated at the highest level by Hitler and the OKW and 
depending at the tactical level on cooperation between the individual 
commanders. The British had to cope with a divided command of 
their own forces plus the frictions, disagreements, and suspicions which 
arose out of the effort to conduct combined operations involving Nor- 
wegian, French, and Polish contingents. On the whole, the Germans 
managed to achieve the greater degree of coordination, partly, no doubt, 
because the difficulties they faced were fewer. 

The power of the German Air Force was dramatically demonstrated 
when, on 18 April, the cruiser Suffolk, which had shelled the airfield 
at Stavanger, returned to Scapa Flow with her quarter-deck awash 
after being subjected to seven hours of almost continuous air attacks. 7 
A week earlier Admiral Forbes had decided to leave the waters around 
southern Norway mostly to submarines because of German air superi- 
ority. 8 That decision had virtually assured the safety of the Germans' 
supply line from their home base. While the Luftwaffe was not able 
to carry out its strategic mission to the extent of preventing enemy land- 
ings in Norway, it was effective in keeping the Allies from establishing 
secure bases and contributed greatly toward forcing their subsequent 
withdrawal. The tactical support of ground troops could be carried out 
unopposed and, hence, was very successful, although, particularly at 
Narvik, it was one of the sources of friction between the Army, which 
wanted close support of its troops, and the Air Force, which wanted 
to concentrate on the more rewarding targets at sea. 

One aspect of the Norwegian campaign which seemed to have great 
importance at the time was the appearance of the so-called Fifth Col- 

1 Derry, op. cit., p. 74. 
8 Roskill, op. cit., p. 171. 


umn. The name "Quisling" eventually became a generic term applied 
to that species of traitor who made himself a willing tool of the invader. 
The Fifth Column, long regarded as one of the Nazis' most effective 
weapons, was, in fact, a negligible factor in the campaign. The idea 
of boring from within may have appealed to Hitler and Rosenberg, 
but the preservation of secrecy alone forbade its being incorporated into 
the military plan. Quisling was from the first a source of political 
embarrassment and a military liability in that he contributed greatly 
to the failure of the intended "peaceful" occupation. Probably the 
chief significance of the Fifth Column in Norway and elsewhere was 
that it was a phantasm which could be blown up beyond any relation- 
ship to reality in the minds of a people caught in a disastrous war for 
which they were not prepared either militarily or psychologically. 



Chapter 7 
Plans and Preparations 

The Change of Course in German-Finnish Relations 

The Winter War of 1939-1940 left Finland independent but teetering 
on the brink of disaster. Its economy, already shattered by the war, 
had to bear the strain of 400,000 refugees from territory annexed by the 
Soviet Union. Strategically, the peace treaty created favorable con- 
ditions for a new Soviet attack. In the south the border was pushed 
northwestward, away from the Karelian Isthmus and Lake Ladoga 
where the Finns had been able to put up their strongest resistance dur- 
ing the war. The acquisition of Salla and some territory around it 
gave the Soviet Union an entering wedge for a drive across the waist 
of Finland to the head of the Gulf of Bothnia; and the railroad which 
Finland was forced under the treaty to build from Kemiyaxvi to Salla 
(Kuolayarvi) — while the Soviet Union completed a stretch from Salla 
to Kandalaksha on the Murmansk Railroad — would facilitate either 
Soviet military operations or an economic penetration of northern Fin- 
land. In the far north possession of the western half of the Rybatchiy 
Peninsula enabled Soviet forces to dominate the entrance to Pechenga, 
while, in the south, occupation of Hanko gave the Russians a naval base 
and a strong beachhead in the heart of Finland west of Helsinki. 1 The 
German occupation of Norway completed the physical isolation of 
Finland by putting an end to such modest prospects of Western inter- 
vention as had existed during the Winter War, and the fall of France 
brought political isolation as well by making Germany the dominant 
power on the Continent and Great Britain a suppliant for the favor of 

In June 1940, while the Allies were going down to defeat in Norway 
and France, the Soviet Union, setting to work to gather in its share of 

1 Der russisch-ftnnische Krieg, Anlagenband zum T.B. AOK Norwegen, Ic. AOK 


the spoils, occupied Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and subjected Fin- 
land to renewed pressure. It began early in the month with a demand 
for the return of all property, both public and private, which the Finns 
had removed from Hanko before the Soviet occupation. That was 
followed by a demand for either Soviet control of the nickel mining 
concession at Pechenga or operation of the mining company in partner- 
ship with Finland. Pechenga, where a Canadian firm held the con- 
cession, had been left to Finland after the Winter War solely out of re- 
gard for a British reaction, which in June no longer had to be feared. 
In July Soviet insistence on demilitarization of the Aland Islands and 
the right to send trains across Finnish territory to Hanko increased the 
tension. JFinland submitted with regard to the property and demilitari- 
zation questions and agreed to negotiate on the remaining two demands. 2 
Meanwhile, the Finns, thus threatened, began to pin their hopes on 
the then seemingly remote possibility that help might yet be secured from 
Germany. On 4 July the Finnish Foreign Minister told the German 
Minister that sentiment friendly to Germany was developing in the 
population in "avalanche proportions" and that efforts were underway 
to form a government oriented exclusively toward Berlin. Public 
opinion, he said, was influenced strongly by the idea that Finland with 
the aid of German arms could, in a few months, recover the territories 
lost to Russia. The German Minister replied that he would regard as 
objectionable the formation of a government onesidedly favorable to 
Germany since Germany intended to respect its agreements with Russia ; 
it would be preferable, he suggested, to form a government which co- 
operated with Germany secretly while outwardly maintaining an atti- 
tude of reserve. Two days later he was admonished from Berlin to 
avoid such statements as the last because they might arouse "false 
hopes." 3 

Nevertheless, two occurrences during the summer were to result in a 
radical change of the official German attitude toward Finland. In 
July the I.G. Farben concern contracted for 60 percent of the Pechenga 
nickel ore production, thus assuring Germany of an adequate supply of 
that strategic metal and giving Germany an interest in the preservation 
of Finland. Even more important for Finland — and the world — Hitler 
at the end of July ordered planning begun for a campaign against the 
Soviet Union. 4 Naturally, Finland came under consideration as a po- 
tential ally. 

German interest in the Pechenga ore became apparent in the plans 
and military dispositions affecting Finland that the Germans initiated 
in August. At the end of July the Soviet Union ushered in a new period 

2 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 422-24. 

3 Bluecher tel. to Foreign Ministry, No. 398, 4 July 1940 and Woermann to Bluecher, 
No. 310, 6 July. U. S.' Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records, 
B 19/B003639. 

4 Helmuth Greiner, Das Unternehmen "Barbarossa," p. 12. MS # C-065L 


of crisis in Eastern Europe with the occupation of Bessarabia. Com- 
munist demonstrations in Helsinki and a Russian charge that the Finns 
were attempting to suppress the Soviet-supported Association for Peace 
and Friendship With the Soviet Union, which had been founded in 
Finland after the Winter War, appeared to indicate that Finland's turn 
was next. German intelligence concluded that the Soviet Union would 
begin military operations against Finland in mid- August. 5 On 13 
August Hitler ordered a strengthening of the land, sea, and air forces 
in the northernmost parts of Norway. The 2d Mountain Division was 
to be shifted from Trondheim to the Kirkenes area. For the event of a 
Soviet attack on Finland he gave the Mountain Corps Norway (the 2d 
and 3d Mountain Divisions under the command of General Dietl, 
formed in June 1940) and the 2d Mountain Division the task of pre- 
paring, under the cover-name Renntier, an operation which had as its 
objectives the speedy occupation of Pechenga and the nickel mines at 
Kolosyoki and defense of the northern Norwegian fiords against possible 
landings. 6 

The first open sign of a shift in German policy toward Finland came 
on 18 August when Lt. Col. Joseph Veltjens, as Goering's personal 
emissary, made contact with Finland's Marshal Mannerheim and se- 
cured permission for the transport of German Air Force supplies and 
personnel across Finnish territory from the head of the Gulf of Bothnia 
to Kirkenes. Simultaneously representing Goering in his capacity as 
director of the German Four Year Plan, Veltjens also secured an option 
on the nickel mining concession at Pechenga. The Air Force move was 
followed on 22 September by a transit agreement covering supplies of 
all the armed services and in November by a transport arrangement for 
troops returning on furlough to Germany from northern Norway. 7 In 
conjunction with the transit agreements and as a result of a favorable 
report on the Finnish Army which Hitler received from the German Mili- 
tary Attache in Helsinki, Germany undertook to supply arms to the 
Finns. 8 The shipments began in August when Germany released stocks 
of military equipment and supplies originally destined for Finland which 
had been impounded during the occupation of Norway. 9 

To the Government of the Soviet Union the German Foreign Minis- 
try explained the transit agreements as a temporary aid in strengthening 
the Norwegian defenses against a British attack. The Soviet Govem- 

5 Ibid., p. 12. Haider Diary, Vol. IV, p. 137. Helmuth Greiner, Aufzeichnungen 
ueber die Lagebesprechungen bei der Abteilung Landesverteidigung vom 8 August 
1940 bis zum 25 Juni 1941, p. 8. MS # C-065L OCMH. 

6 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, Nr. 33230/40, Norwegen, 16.8.40 and Geb. Korps Nor- 
wegen, Chefs Nr. 82/40, "Renntier," 7.9.40, in Gruppe XXI, "Renntier," 16.8- 
7.9.40. AOK 20 20844/1. MS # G-065i, p. 13. 

7 MS # C-065i, p. 14. Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 425-27. Heimatstab Nord des 
W. B. Norwegen, Nr. 3229/40, Urlaeubertransport durch Finnland, 24.1 1 .1940, in 
Taetigkeitsberichte der Gruppe XXI, November 1940. AOK 20 12564/1. 

8 Haider Diary, Vol. IV, p. 149, 153, 158. 

8 Wipert von Bluecher, Gesandter zwischen Diktatur und Demokratie (Wiesbaden: 
Limes Verlag, 1951), p. 198. 


ment accepted the explanation without comment but did not long con- 
ceal its growing suspicion. On 1 November Anastas I. Mikoyan, Peoples 
Commissar for Foreign Trade, complained that the Germans were 
unwilling to deliver war materiel to the Soviet Union, yet were making 
deliveries to Finland and other countries. 10 In Finland the agreements 
brought new hope. Marshal Mannerheim, in his memoirs, stated that 
but for the transit agreements Finland would have fallen victim to the 
Soviet Union during the fall of 1940. 11 

The extent of Soviet concern over the new German-Finnish relation- 
ship became clear at the time of the visit of Soviet Foreign Minister 
Vyacheslav M. Molotov to Berlin in mid-November. Molotov stated 
that the Nazi-Soviet Pact of the previous year could be regarded as 
fulfilled, except for one point, namely, Finland. The Finnish question 
was still unsolved, and he asked Hitler to tell him whether the Nazi- 
Soviet Pact, as far as it concerned Finland, was still in force; the Soviet 
Government could find no grounds for a change. Hitler replied that 
Germany had no political interest in Finland but needed the deliveries 
of Finnish nickel and lumber and, above all, did not want a new conflict 
in the Baltic Sea area. He painted a picture of Swedish involvement 
and British, or even United States, intervention. A Baltic conflict, he 
declared, would place a heavy strain on German-Russian relations and 
on the great collaboration planned for the future. 

Molotov asked for withdrawal of German troops from Finland, a 
promise that Germany would not support Finnish anti-Soviet demon- 
strations, and, above all, concurrence in the Soviet desire to proceed 
with a settlement of the Finnish question in keeping with the 1939 
treaty. The settlement, he implied, could be carried out without war 
as had those involving Bessarabia and the Baltic States. Sidetracking 
the discussion, the German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, replied that 
there was actually no reason for making an issue of the Finnish question. 
Strategically, the peace treaty with Finland met all of Russia's wishes, 
and whatever disturbances had arisen as a result of the German troop 
movements would subside as soon as the transports ended. Hitler added 
that both sides agreed in principle that Finland belonged in the Russian 
sphere of influence and thereupon dismissed the problem as purely 
theoretical. 12 Actually, in this conference, which marked the beginning 
of the end of German-Soviet collaboration, nothing was less theoretical; 
Hitler warned the Russians to stay out of Finland, and the warning, 
however grudgingly, was heeded. 

The Molotov visit to Berlin produced a mild crisis in German-Finnish 
relations. The Finns became apprehensive over the possibility that the 
Germans and Russians might have gotten together to engineer another 

10 U.S. Department of State, Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939-1941 (Washington, 1948), 
pp. 188, 198, 202,204,217. 

11 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 427. 

12 Nazi-Soviet Relations, pp. 2 1 7-47. 


division of the spoils in Eastern Europe; their anxiety in that respect 
was heightened by a misunderstanding regarding the German option on 
the nickel mining concession. The Finnish Government had assumed 
that Germany, in defense of its option, would make itself a third party 
to the negotiations with Russia on that matter and so deflect some of 
the pressure from Finland; consequently, the Finns were thoroughly 
dismayed when, as the Russians began pushing their claims in October, 
the German Government declared that it had no interest in the owner- 
ship of the mines. Actually, the German Foreign Office did not learn 
until the end of October that an option existed and then found that its 
hands were tied since it had assured the Russians in July that Germany's 
interest in the mines did not go beyond securing enough of the ore out- 
put to meet German requirements. 13 

On 23 November, to allay the misgivings of the Finns, Veltjens went 
to Helsinki a second time. He was instructed to say that nothing had 
been decided during the Molotov visit which made it necessary for Fin- 
land to adopt an "unnecessarily yielding" attitude in its negotiations 
with the Soviet Union. The German refusal to enter into the negotia- 
tions concerning the mining concession, he was to explain, meant only 
that Germany regarded the decision as one which was entirely up to 
Finland — to the extent of also recognizing Finland's right to keep the 
concession for itself if it so desired. To bolster the Finns' confidence, 
he was instructed to say the Russians were aware that Germany in the 
existing situation regarded new "complications" in the north as undesir- 
able. 14 Several days later the German Minister in Helsinki was told 
to use the same words of encouragement in his talks with members of 
the Finnish Government and to add that it was believed the Soviet 
Government would keep the German attitude in mind in the future 
conduct of its relations with Finland. 15 

The Russians' dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Berlin talks was 
underscored on 26 November when Molotov informed the German 
Ambassador in Moscow that the Soviet Union would join the Three 
Power Pact (one of the matters discussed in Berlin) provided certain 
conditions were met. First on the list was "that the German troops be 
immediately withdrawn from Finland, which under the compact of 
1939 belongs to the Soviet Union's sphere of influence." The Soviet 
Union promised "to ensure peaceful relations with Finland" and to 
protect German economic interests there. 16 In the succeeding months 
the Germans avoided giving a direct reply, and at the end of March 
1941 Ribbentrop told the Japanese Foreign Minister that Germany 

13 Weiszr.ecker, Aufzeichnung, 30 Oct 40. U.S. Department of State, German 
Foreign Ministry Records, B 1 9/B0038 19-21. 

14 Wiehl, an deutsche Botschaft Moskau, W 5394, 24 Nov 40. U.S. Department of 
State, German Foreign Ministry 'Records, B 19/B003881. 

15 Ribbentrop, an Gesandtschaft Helsinki, Nr. 29, 29.11.40. U.S. Department of 
State, German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B003889. 

10 Nazi-Soviet Relations, p. 258. 


would not attempt to bring the Soviet Union into the pact "for some 
time" since the Russians had set conditions which were^ irreconcilable 
with the German point of view, particularly concerning Finland and 
Turkey (Molotov had also asked that Russia be given control of the 
Dardanelles). 17 

In December 1940 German and Soviet attention was drawn to Fin- 
land by the Finish presidential election. For the Finns the chief con- 
sideration was to elect a man acceptable to Germany, and early in the 
month the German Foreign Ministry decided to support the candidature 
of T. M. Kivimaki, then Finnish Minister in Berlin. Subsequently, the 
Soviet Union informed the Finnish Government that the election of 
certain individuals, among them Kivimaki, would be regarded "as not 
serving the interests of Soviet-Finnish relations." 18 On learning of the 
Soviet move the Germans decided against encouraging the Finns to 
elect a candidate whom the Russians opposed and switched their support 
to Risto Ryti, whom they suspected of being pro-British but who was 
considered preferable to a weak compromise candidate. 19 At the end 
of the month Ryti was elected and subsequently held office until 1 August 

At the New Year's reception for the diplomatic corps in Berlin the 
Finnish Minister greeted the German Secretary of State in the Foreign 
Office, Ernst von Weizsaecker, with the statement that in his homeland 
people were now more calm since they believed that in a future conflict 
with Russia they could not stand alone. Weizsaeker replied that the 
Russians were certainly taking into account the German desire for no 
new unrest in the north. 20 As the new year began, however, it was soon 
revealed that Finland had not yet entirely weathered the storm. 

In mid-January the Russians renewed their demand for the mining 
concession and threatened, if an agreement were not reached quickly, "to 
bring order into the situation by the application of certain means." 21 
For a time it appeared that Germany would either have to intervene 
openly or to advise the Finns to give in, but the Foreign Ministry decided, 
instead, to encourage the Finns secretly and give them indirect help in 
staving off a showdown by muddying the waters of the negotiations with 
various demands for guarantees with respect to delivery of the ore con- 
tracted for by Germany. Those tactics succeeded, and, although the 
Russians angrily broke off the negotiations before the end of the month 
and stopped their exports to Finland, an open breach did not follow. 

17 Nazi— Soviet Relations, p. 304. 

16 U. St. S. Pol., Dg. Pol., Nr. 710, 4.12.40. Schmidt, Notiz fuer RAM, 12.12.40. 
U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B003913.. 

10 Weizsaecker, an Gesandtschaft Helsinki, fuer Gesandten, Nr. 737, 17.12.40. U.S. 
Department of S.tate, German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B003918. 

20 Weizsaecker, No. 925, 31.12.40. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign 
Ministry Records, B 19/B003945. 

21 Wiehl, Aufzeichnung, 19.1.41. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign 
Ministry Records, B 19/B003955. 


Hitler indicated in his meeting with Mussolini at the Berghof on 
18—20 January that, if necessary, Germany would have gone further in 
supporting Finland. The Russians, he said, had agreed to let Germany 
have the necessary nickel supplies but would not hold to their agreement 
any longer than suited them ; therefore, he could not permit further 
Soviet encroachments in Finland. 22 

In February, when another crisis appeared to be in the making, the 
Finns attempted, through the military attaches, to secure direct German 
diplomatic support; but the Foreign Ministry on 19 February informed 
the OKW that the negotiations between Finland and Russia were being 
followed closely and that there was no danger of the Russians' using 
force. 23 In March the Russians again broke off the negotiations briefly, 
but their tendency in the spring of 1941, as they came into serious con- 
flict with Germany in the Balkans, was to relax the pressure on Finland; 
and in April the Soviet Minister in Helsinki was replaced by a more tact- 
ful and moderate diplomat. 

The winter of 1940-1941 also saw the establishment of contact be- 
tween the Finnish and German general staffs. In December Kenraali- 
majuri Paavo Talvela- conferred with Goering and Haider, and in 
January the Finnish Chief of Staff, Kenraaliluutnanti Erik Heinrichs, 
went to Berlin. At the end of February Col. Erich Buschenhagen, 
Chief of Staff, Army of Norway ( Group XXI, redesignated in December 
1940), visited Helsinki and toured northern Finland. Those meetings, 
which will be discussed in more detail later, dealt with "hypothetical" 
cases. As far as can be determined, no commitments were made on 
either side; still, they provided the Germans with information useful 
in their planning for an invasion of the Soviet Union and the Finns with 
more than a hint that they could expect to be drawn into collaboration 
with Germany. 

In the spring, as a result of a little comedy of errors, the German- 
Finnish rapprochement was given additional concrete expression. Late 
in February SS-Brigadefuehrer Gottlob Berger informed the German 
Foreign Ministry that 700 Finns had applied at the Legation in Hel- 
sinki for enlistment in the SS and that Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himm- 
ler had given permission for their acceptance. On 1 March Berger 
announced that he intended in the next day or two to send a doctor to 
Helsinki to begin the physical examinations. Since no word of these 
intentions had been mentioned to the Finns, the Foreign Ministry asked 
Berger to postpone action while it hustled the Finnish Minister in Berlin 
off to Helsinki to get the opinion of his Government. 24 In the meantime, 
an inquiry to the Helsinki Legation brought the somewhat startled reply 

22 MS # G-065i, p. 81. 

23 MS # G-065k, pp. 216, 221, 230, 231. 

24 St. S., U.St. S. Pol., Pol. VI 806, 22.2.41 and Grundherr, Aufzeichnung, 1.3.41. 
U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B004040 and B 


that the number of men who had applied was not 700 but less than two 
dozen, and they wanted to join the Army, not the SS. A check with 
Berger then revealed that his information had come from a Swedish citi- 
zen who had since been jailed in Sweden and had destroyed his alleged 
list of 700 names. 25 By the time these facts were established the Finnish 
Minister had returned with the information that his Government and 
Mannerheim were "basically friendly" to the idea of recruiting a Finnish 
unit for service in Germany and believed it would revive the feeling of 
military association which had existed between the two countries in the 
past. They preferred the creation of a unit similar to the 27th Royal 
Prussian Jaeger Battalion, which during World War I had served as the 
cradle of the Finnish officer corps and had given the country all of its 
ranking officers except Mannerheim and one or two others who served 
in the Czarist Russian Army. But they had no particular objection to 
the SS as long as the Finns were given status separate from that of the 
collaborator units which the SS was then recruiting in the occupied coun- 
tries. 26 The German Foreign Ministry, for its part, was reluctant to 
embark on a project which would give open evidence of German- Finnish 
collaboration. At the same time, it was forced to save face for the SS. 
During the remainder of March it worked out an agreement whereby 
the Finns undertook to recruit about 1,000 men through an ostensibly 
private committee. The recruiting was completed in two months, and 
the battalion subsequently formed served in the SS-Panzer Grenadier 
Division "Wiking" on the Eastern Front, mostly in the Ukraine, until 
July 1943 when it returned to Finland and was disbanded. 27 

In the last months before the appointed time for reckoning with the 
Soviet Union one of the German concerns was to keep the friendship 
with Finland from ripening too rapidly. For the Germans a fairly 
nebulous relationship was advantageous. The Finns, on the other hand, 
not having the Germans' knowledge of the course which events were 
likely to take in the near future, did not attempt to disguise their desire 
to slip under the German wing formally and openly if necessary. On 
2 April the Finnish Foreign Minister, Rolf Witting, told the German 
Minister that the Russo-Finnish War had revealed Finland's inability 
to stand alone against its large neighbor. The Swedish assistance had 
proved insufficient, and help from Great Britain (in the future) was out 
of the question. The generally accepted opinion in Finland, he stated, 
was that the only country which could give Finland real protection 

25 Gesandtschaft Helsinki, Nr. 153, 11.3.41. and Grundherr, Fernschreiben an 
Sonderzug Heinrich, 14.3.41. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry 
Records, B 19/B004068 and B004075. 

20 Grundherr, Aufzeichnung, Pol. VI 1181, 17.3.41. U.S. Department of State, 
German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B004088. 

27 Bluecher, Nr. 193, 24.3.41 and Bluecher, Nr. 204, 29.3.41. U.S. Department of 
State, German Foreign Ministry Records, B 19/B004098 and B 19/B004105. 
Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 433. 


against the Soviet Union was Germany. 28 This consideration, he 
indicated, was the determining element in his policy. Several weeks 
earlier he had hinted that in connection with the recruiting for the SS 
"Finland might be able to march into the Three Power Pact." To 
keep the conversation from proceeding any further along that line the 
German Minister had changed the subject. 29 That Witting's sugges- 
tion was not taken up redounded in the long run to Finland's advantage 
since in a few months the country was to find its position as an 
independent cobelligerent preferable to 'that of a German ally. 

As it was, Witting did not have long to wait for the culmination of 
his policy. On 28 May Minister Karl Schnurre, Hitler's personal 
envoy, called on the Finnish President and, after telling him that the 
existing tension between Germany and Russia could lead to war, asked 
that one or several Finnish military experts be sent to Germany to 
be informed on the situation. 30 A hypothetical tone was to be main- 
tained for a while yet, but as the Finnish military delegation emplaned 
for Salzburg on 24 May no one could doubt that the stage was being 
set for the final act. 

Planning for Combined Operations 

The BARBAROSSA Directive (The Strategic Plan) 

In conferences with his military advisors on 21 and 31 July 1940 
Hitler set in motion the planning for an, operation against the Soviet 
Union. 81 Whether Finland could be used as an ally, he said, remained 
to be seen. ( His own estimation of Finland remained low until 22 August 
when a report on the Finnish Army from the Military Attache in 
Helsinki induced him to reverse his opinion.) One of the political 
objectives he foresaw was an expansion of Finland to the White Sea. 32 

From the outset it was clear that Finland offered, at the most, three 
operational possibilities: an attack on the Murmansk Railroad, the 
occupation of Pechenga, and an attack across the southeastern border 
into the Russian right flank. Generalmajor Erich Marcks, author of 
the first (5 August) plan of operations submitted to the OKH after the 
July conferences, recognized the significance of the Murmansk Railroad 
as a link between Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But Marcks 
envisioned a heavy concentration of German forces in the central and 
southern sectors, leaving northern Russia, Leningrad, and — therefore — 

28 Gesandtschaft Helsinki, Tgb. Nr. 58/41 , Potlitik des finnischen Aussenministers, 
2.4.41. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records, E 295447/1. 

20 Gesandtschaft Helsinki, Nr. 153, 11.3.41. U.S. Department of State, German 
Foreign Ministry Documents, B 19/B004068. 

30 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 434. 

31 For a more detailed account of the planning for the attack on Russia see Depart- 
ment of the Army Pamphlet No. 20— 261a, The German Campaign in Russia, Planning 
and Operations (1940-1942). 

32 Haider Diary, Vol. IV, pp. 128, 149. 


Finland out of the first and main assault phase of the campaign. He 
recommended postponing the decision on whether or not to make a bid 
for Finnish participation in the form of an attack on the Murmansk 
Railroad to a later stage of the operation\ 33 The second possibility, the 
occupation of Pechenga, was placed firmly on the German agenda in 
mid- August, when Hitler ordered planning begun for Operation Renn- 
tier. The third possibility came under consideration in a plan which 
the National Defense Branch, OKW, submitted to the OKW operations 
chief, Jodl, on 19 September. The OKW planners proposed a stronger 
northward thrust by the German Army and, consequently, a larger role 
for Finland. All available German and Finnish forces were to be massed 
on the southeastern border of Finland for an attack either across the 
Isthmus of Karelia toward Leningrad or east of Lake Ladoga toward 
Tikhvin. The intention was to assist the advance of the German north- 
ern army group toward Leningrad. 34 That plan possessed the advantage 
of tying the operations out of Finland in with the German main effort, 
but it was impaired by political and transportation difficulties which 
would prevent concentration of German troops in southern Finland 
prior to the attack. 

At a conference with Hitler on 5 December Brauchitsch and Haider 
presented a preliminary plan, based on the staff work which had been 
done thus far, for a campaign in Russia. Hitler approved it, and on 
the following day Jodl instructed the National Defense Branch to pre- 
pare a directive on that basis. From the record of the conference, which 
is incomplete, it can only be determined that Hitler indicated the par- 
ticipation of Finland was to be counted on, and mention was made of 
sending one division by rail from Narvik across Sweden to operate in 
conjunction with the 2d Mountain Division in northern Finland. 35 A 
more complete statement of the plan, as it existed at that time, is con- 
tained in the record of a conference on 7 December between Haider and 
Falkenhorst. Preparations were to be made for an offensive by four 
divisions from Norway, one division going overland to Pechenga, 
another proceeding to Finland by rail from Narvik, and two divisions 
crossing Sweden by rail from central Norway. The force, as appears 
from a conference a week later between Haider and Buschenhagen, 
was to launch two attacks, one in the north in the Pechenga area and 
the other farther south in the vicinity of Salla. 36 

33 AOK 18, Abt. Ia. Nr. 167/40, Operationsentwurf Ost, 5.8.40, in Vorbereitun^en, 
Aufmarsch Ost I. AOK 18 17562/8. 

34 Gotthard Heinrici, Der Feldzug in Russland, Ueberblick ueber die Jahre 1941- 
1942, p. 65. MS # T-6 (Neufassung). OGMH. 

35 Helmuth Greiner, Entwuerfe zum Kriegstagebuch des W ehrmachtfuehrungsstabes 
{Abteilung Landesverteidigung) vom 1.12.1940-24.3.1941, pp. 29-34. MS # 
C-065L OCMH.. Haider Diary, Vol. V, p. 51. The entry in the Haider Diary 
can be read as "two mountain divisions," but in the light of other evidence it appears 
that "the 2d Mountain Division" is the correct reading. 

36 Haider Diary, Vol. V, pp. 54, 60. 


On 18 December Hitler signed Directive No. 21, the strategic plan 
for Operation Barbarossa. The directive, which the OKW issued as 
the basis for operational planning by the services, reads as follows re- 
garding operations in Finland: 

II. Prospective Allies and their Mission 

Romania's and Finland's active participation in the war against Soviet 
Russia is to be anticipated; they will provide contingents on either wing 
of our ground forces. 

In due course the Armed Forces High Command will approach these 
two countries and make arrangements as to the manner in which their 
military contingents will be placed under German command at the time 
of their intervention. 

Finland will cover the concentration of the German Force North (ele- 
ments of Group XXI) which will be transferred from Norway, and the 
Finnish troops will operate in conjunction with this force. Moreover, 
Finland will have to neutralize Hanko. 

It may be assumed that, by the start of the campaign at the latest, 
there will be a possibility of using the Swedish railroads and highways 
for the transfer of the German Force North. 

III. The Campaign Plans 

During the Russian Campaign, Group XXI will continue to consider 
the protection of Norway as its primary mission. Any excess forces 
available beyond the scope of this mission will be committed primarily 
in the north (Mountain Corps) to secure the Petsamo region and its ore 
mines as well as the highway connecting Petsamo with Oulu (Arctic 
Highway). Together with Finnish contingents these forces will sub- 
sequently thrust toward the Murmansk Railway in an attempt to prevent 
supplies from reaching the Murmansk area by land. 

Whether an operation by a stronger German force^ — consisting of two 
to three divisions which would jump off from the region around and 
south of Rovaniemi — can be executed, will depend on Sweden's willing- 
ness to make its railroads available for such a concentration of German 

The bulk of the Finnish Army will coordinate its operations with the 
advance of the German north wing. Its principal mission will be to 
tie down the maximum Russian forces by an attack west of or on both 
sides of Lake Ladoga and to seize Hanko. 37 

In short, Directive No. 2 1 provided for the occupation and defense of 
Pechenga, essentially Operation Renntier; thrusts toward Murmansk 
and the railroad as had been suggested in the Marcks Plan, only using 
German troops; and an operation similar to that which the National 
Defense Branch had proposed to be executed by the Finns along their 
southern border. It should be noted that at this stage Murmansk, as 
far as the Germans were concerned, by no means had the strategic 
importance it was later to attain. In the light of the German expec- 

37 1.M.T.,T>oc. 446-PS. 


tation of victory within three to four months — too short a time for sig- 
nificant aid to come to the Soviet Union through Murmansk — the 
operation against that port was an unnecessary diversion of forces. 
That it was planned at all seems to be traceable to Hitler's particular, 
almost fearful, concern for areas where the British might establish even a 
temporary foothold. 

The presence of the Finnish General Talvela in Berlin in mid-Decem- 
ber raises the possibility of Finnish participation in the formulation of 
Directive No. 2 1 . From the existing evidence, it appears that the visit 
was largely, though — at least from the German point of view — not 
entirely, coincidental. Talvela's mission was to maintain the personal 
contact between Mannerheim and Goering which Veltjens had estab- 
lished in his two trips to Helsinki. In talks with Goering and Haider 
he described the Finnish political and military situation and, in par- 
ticular, attempted to enlist German support for a political union of 
Finland and Sweden. The idea of a Swedish-Finnish union ran 
counter to Hitler's intention of keeping the northern European states 
dependent on Germany; Goering, therefore, stated that Germany was 
interested in Finland only as an independent nation, not as a Swedish 
province. That matters of more positive interest to Germany were at 
least touched on is indicated in Haider's request for information regard- 
ing the time the Finns would need to mobilize — "inconspicuously" — 
for an attack toward the southeast. 38 

The Army of Norway Staff Study SILBERFUCHS 

At the end of December, on the basis of the oral instructions given 
to Falkenhorst and Buschenhagen, the Army of Norway understood its 
task as a broadening of the theoretical preparations already underway 
for Renntier. The considerations were to take into account a force 
expanded to approximately four divisions and a thrust through to the 
White Sea in the vicinity of Kandalaksha for the purpose of cutting off 
and taking possession of the Kola Peninsula. 39 On 16 January 1941 
von Brauchitsch, in addition, instructed Falkenhorst to prepare a study 
which would include a German-Finnish advance southeastward into 
the Lake Ladoga-Lake Onega-White Sea area and proposals with 
respect to command and supply arrangements. 40 

On 27 January the Army of Norway completed the requested study 
under the cover-name Silberfuchs. The main burden of the attack 

38 Aufzeichnung, Ministerialdirektor Weihl, Nr. 15/40, an Herrn Reichsaussen- 
minister, 20.12.1940. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records, 
B19/B003932. Haider Diary, Vol. V, p. 62. 

39 AOK Norwegen, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armee-Oberkommandos Norwegen, Abt. 
Ia in der Zeit vom 1 .12 -31 .12.40, in Taetigkeitsberichte des Armee-Oberkommandos 
Norwegen, Dez. 1940. AOK 20 12564/2. 

40 A. O.K. Norwegen, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armee-Oberkommandos Norwegen, 
Abt. Ia in der Zeit vom 1.1.-31.1.41, in Taetigkeitsberichte des Armee-Oberkom- 
mandos Norwegen, Jan. 1940. AOK 20 12564/3. Haider Diary, Vol. V, p. 73. 


would fall on the Finnish Army which would have to provide security 
for the south coast including the Aland Islands, defend its border north- 
west of Lake Ladoga with relatively weak forces, and mass its main 
force for an attack east of Lake Ladoga toward the Svir River. The 
main German attack would be directed along the railroad Rovaniemi- 
Salla-Kandalaksha to the White Sea to cut off the Russian forces on 
the Kola Peninsula. The forces employed would be the XXXVI Corps, 
composed of two infantry divisions and the SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord," 
and the Finnish III Corps, with at least two divisions. 41 SS-Kampf- 
gruppe "Nord," reinforced by a machine gun battalion, an artillery 
battalion, an antitank battalion, one or two companies of engineers (all 
motorized), and a battalion of tanks, was to provide mobile advanced 
security for the assembly of the infantry divisions. Part of the Finnish 
troops would be used for a secondary attack from Suomussalmi via 
Ukhta toward Kem. On reaching the Murmansk Railroad at Kanda- 
laksha part of the German force would turn north and, in collaboration 
with one reinforced mountain division advancing on Murmansk from 
Pechenga, destroy the Russian units on the Kola Peninsula and take 
possession of Murmansk and Polyarnyy. The mass of the German force, 
if possible linking up with the Finns advancing toward Kem, would 
push southward behind the eastern wing of the Finnish Army. Future 
operations, either east or west of Lake Onega, were to be determined 

The operation depended on Sweden's permitting the use of its terri- 
tory for troop and supply transports. The Army of Norway would 
supply all of the German units, leaving about five divisions for the defense 
of Norway; construction, supply, and communications troops and a 
large number of horse-drawn and motor vehicles would have to be 
furnished from Germany. The Finns were expected to claim the over- 
all command since their troops would be in the majority. 42 

The Army Operation Order 

At the end of January the OKH implemented Directive No. 21 with 
an operation order, the Aufmarschanweisung Barbarossa, which Hitler 
approved on 3 February. In that order the defense of Norway remained 
the most important task of the Army of Norway. Forces in excess of 
those needed in Norway could be used in Finland, where, until the Finns 
entered the war, the mission would be to secure the Pechenga region. 
After the Finns entered the war one of two courses would be pursued. 
The first was identical with the Army of Norway Silberfuchs proposal : 
a drive to Kandalaksha by two or three German divisions with attached 
Finnish contingents, destruction of the Russian forces on the Kola 

41 The Finnish corps designation used here is that of 15 June 1941 when the V Corps 
became the III Corps. 

** A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 3/41, Studie ueber Operationsabsicht "Silberfuchs," 
27.1.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. 1, 10.1 -8.5.41 . AOK 20 20844/4. 


Peninsula in collaboration with German troops advancing on Murmansk 
from Pechenga, and a shift of the German main force southward to 
aid the operations of the Finnish Army. The second was an alternative 
in the event that Sweden refused to permit troop movements across its 
territory. In that case only one attack would be launched — from 
Pechenga eastward, with the objective of taking Polyarnyy, Murmansk, 
and the railroad. 

The mission of the Finnish Army would be to take Hanko, cover 
the deployment of German forces in northern Finland, and — at the 
latest, when German Army Group North crossed the Dvina River — 
begin an offensive on both sides of Lake Ladoga with the weight of the 
attack, if possible, east of the lake. 43 The original Finnish preference, 
apparently, was for a limited operation west of Lake Ladoga to recover 
the strategically and economically valuable territory on the Isthmus of 
Karelia which had been lost to Russia in the Winter War. The Ger- 
mans, on the other hand, wanted a sweep around the eastern shore of 
the lake to cut off Leningrad by a junction of the Finnish Army with 
the Army Group North in the Volkhov-Tikhvin area. 

The statement of the Finnish mission was based on a conversation 
Haider had had on 30 January with the Finnish Chief of Staff, General 
Heinrichs, who brought an answer to the question Haider had asked 
Talvela a month earlier (Finland could mobilize "quietly" but not with- 
out attracting some attention ) and added the information that the Finns 
would be able to attack with five divisions west of Lake Ladoga, three 
divisions east of Lake Ladoga, and two divisions against Hanko. The 
Finnish participation in the planning, again, was indirect. Hitler 
ordered on 3 February that Finland and the other potential allies could 
be approached only after it was no longer possible to disguise the Ger- 
man intentions. 44 

On 1 1 February the OKH informed the Army of Norway that only 
part of the rear area personnel and vehicles requested in its Silberfuchs 
study could be supplied and that the SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord" was not 
to be used in the projected operation. 45 Taking those limitations into 
account, the Army of Norway was to investigate and report on the pos- 
sibility of executing its operation in accordance with the OKH Auf- 
marschanweisung.' 16 The Army of Norway replied that the occupation 
of Pechenga could be carried out quickly at any time, but the destruction 
of the Russian forces defending Murmansk could not be accomplished 

43 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (IN), Nr. 050/41, Aufmarschanweisung "Barbarossa," 
31.1.41, in AOK Norwegen, la, Aufmarschanweisung "Barbarossa," 31 .1 —23.7.41 . 
AOK 20 20844/3. 

u OKW, WFSt, 44089, Besprechung ueber Fall "Barbarossa" und "Sonnenblume," 
3.2.41, (no folder title). OKW/1938. Haider Diary, Vol. V, p. 85. 

45 The SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord" was composed of the 6th and 7th SS Death's-Head 
Regiments. It was a police unit and had just begun military training; however, it 
was the only unit in the Army of Norway command which was motorized. 

ie OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (IN), Nr. 150/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, 11.2.41, in 
"Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 


unless Sweden permitted full use of its territory for troop and supply 
movements. An operation from Pechenga alone was not possible be- 
cause a strong force could not be assembled in the far north and the 
operational possibilities, in any case, were poor. The Army of Norway 
proposed to go ahead along the lines suggested in its Silberfuchs study, 
but, because of the limitations on rear area personnel and vehicles, it 
would no longer be able to plan a turn south in support of the Finnish 
Army. Operations directed toward the south could not be contemplated 
until a base of supply had been created at Kandalaksha. 47 On 2 March 
the OKH accepted the Army of Norway proposal as a basis for further 
planning.* 8 

At the end of February Colonel Buschenhagen, Chief of Staff, Army 
of Norway, renewed contact with the Finnish General Staff in Helsinki 
and toured northern Finland. Buschenhagen, who emphasized that all 
the considerations were purely theoretical and no conclusions should be 
drawn, learned that the Finns regarded Pechenga as too remote to be 
defended with the forces at their command but would welcome and sup- 
port German operations there. They anticipated, as had been the case 
in the Winter War, a Russian thrust via Kandalaksha and Salla aimed 
at cutting the route to Sweden and would greatly appreciate German 
assistance in that area. They believed they could cover the assembly of 
the German force in the Rovaniemi-Salla area and had one to two 
divisions of III Corps available for the purpose. Their war aims were 
limited : they wanted to win back what had been lost in the Winter War 
and might go as far as the line Lake Ladoga-Lake Onega- White Sea, 
but beyond that they had no aspirations. 49 

The Revised Army Operation Order 

Early in March the British Navy inadvertently ushered in a new stage 
in the planning. On the morning of 4 March, two British cruisers and 
five destroyers appeared off Svolvaer in the Lofotens. After shelling 
the town and sinking several ships in the harbor, they sent a landing 
party ashore which took about 200 German merchant seamen and 20 
soldiers prisoner. A number of Norwegian civilians went along with 
the British voluntarily. 50 

Although the raid had no military importance it aroused in Hitler's 
mind an overwhelming concern for the defense of Norway, which led 
him, at a conference on 12 March, to reappraise the situation in the 

" A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 10/40, an OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., 13.2.41, in 
"Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 

"OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (IN), Nr. 188/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, 2.3.41, in 
"Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 

49 Deutsche Gesandtschaft, Der Militaerattache, Helsingfors, 22.2.41, (no folder 
title). H 27/43. 

50 W. B. Norwegen, la, Nr. 710/41, Bericht ueber die Vorgaenge in Svolvaer am 
4.3.1941, in Taetigkeitsberichte des AOK Norwegen fuer Monat Maerz 1941. AOK 
20 12564/5. 


Scandinavian area. The British, he declared, if they wanted a chance 
at victory, would have to take the offensive when the campaign against 
the Soviet Union began. Norway, because of its long, broken coastline 
and poor internal lines of communication, was their best target. They 
would probably attempt numerous small raids which might, however, 
evolve into a major operation; therefore, the paramount task of the Army 
of Norway was to provide airtight security for Norway. The Norwegian 
defenses were to be strengthened by 160 batteries of artillery suitable for 
coastal defense and one to two garrison divisions, and it would no longer 
be possible to release nearly 40 percent of the forces in Norway for 
Barbarossa. Since the attitude of Sweden in the transit question ap- 
peared doubtful, other possibilities with respect to assembly and desig- 
nation of objectives for the operation would have to be investigated. 61 

After the conference the OKH revised the Aufmarschanweisung Bar- 
barossa in the light of the new requirements stated by Hitler. The 
defensive mission in Norway was stressed: the additional batteries for 
coastal defense were to be emplaced by mid-May, and existing troop 
strength was not only not to be reduced by withdrawals for Barbarossa 
but actually to be increased in the Kirkenes-Narvik area. As for the 
offensive mission, Pechenga was to be occupied and defended at the time 
Barbarossa began — under certain circumstances (a Soviet attack on 
Finland) even earlier. Murmansk was to be hemmed in but occupied 
only in the further course of operations, if sufficient forces were available ; 
the operation against Murmansk was thereby reduced somewhat in scope 
and its execution made tentative. 52 

One of the further consequences of the Svolvaer raid was that Falken- 
horst, who as Armed Forces Commander, Norway, was subordinate to 
the OKW but as Commanding General, Army of Norway, was tactically 
subordinate to the OKH, was placed under the command of the OKW 
in both capacities. That left the Army of Norway under the OKW in 
Norway and under the OKH with respect to its participation in Bar- 
barossa, a situation which was remedied later in the month by giving 
the OKW control of planning and operations in Finland. 53 

The Army of Norway Operation Orders 

During March the Army of Norway virtually suspended planning 
while awaiting clarification of its mission. In the course of the month 
the concentration of the 2d Mountain Division in the area around Kir- 
kenes for Renntier began; and the first elements of SS-Kampfgruppe 

51 Ausfuehrungen des Fuehrers auf dem Berghof am 12.3.1941 zur Lage, in AOK 
Norwegen, la, Chefsachen allgemein, 21.9.40-1.5.42. AOK 20 35641. 

52 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (IN), Nr. 050/41, Aufmarschanweisung "Barbarossa," 
21.1.41, in A. O.K. Norwegen, la, Aufmarschanweisung "Barbarossa," 31 .1 .—23.7.41 . 
AOK 20 20844/3. 

53 Chef OKW, Nr. 44266/41, Abschrift von Fernschreiben, 5.3.41 (no folder title). 
OKW/1 75. Haider Diary, Vol. VI, p. 29. 


"Nord" were readied for transport, allegedly as replacements, via Sweden 
to northern Norway, where it was to assemble near Kirkenes. From 
there it could proceed southward through Finland along the Arctic 
Ocean Highway avoiding the use of Swedish territory in the assembly 
for Barbarossa. The Kampfgruppe had to be reincluded in the oper- 
ation because, as the only major motorized force available to the Army 
of Norway, it alone was capable of making the long overland march from 
Kirkenes to Rovaniemi. 54 

On 7 April an OKW directive implementing the revised Aufmarsch- 
anweisung provided a basis for resumption of the planning. The rein- 
forced 2d Mountain Division was to be held ready for the occupation 
of Pechenga, but with a proviso that the forces defending the Narvik- 
Kirkenes sector not be reduced below 18 battalions. Whether, after 
security had been provided for the northern Norwegian coast and Pe- 
chenga, enough strength could be mustered for a thrust to Polyarnyy to 
close Kola Bay depended on a number of conditions which could not be 
foreseen, but the necessary preparations were to be made and as many 
troops as possible assembled. The operation to cut off Murmansk from 
the south would have Kandalaksha Bay as its first objective ; its further 
conduct would depend on the situation. For the assembly the Swedish 
railroads would presumably not be available; therefore, the OKH would 
dispatch one infantry division by sea to Finland, while the Army of Nor- 
way sent the XXXVI Corps Headquarters and attached elements, also 
by sea, from Norway. If Sweden granted transit rights after the start 
of Barbarossa, an additional division would be dispatched from south- 
ern Norway. The over-all command of operations out of Finland would 
be offered to Mannerheim. 55 

On 17 April the Army of Norway submitted its plan of operations to 
the OKW and on the 18th and 20th issued operation orders to the 
Mountain Corps Norway and the XXXVI Corps. The enemy strength 
was estimated at five infantry divisions and one or two weak armored 
units. (In the intelligence conferences at the OKW on 5 and 6 June 
the distribution of enemy forces was estimated as follows : one division 
in the Murmansk area, one division at Salla, one — possibly a second — 
division at Kandalaksha, one division in the vicinity of Kem, and one 
division — possibly two — at Arkhangel' sk. ) 56 

The Mountain Corps Norway was given a defensive mission and two 
offensive missions. As Commander in the Polar Region, the Com- 
manding General, Mountain Corps Norway, Dietl, was responsible 

54 A. O.K. Norwegen, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armee-Oberkommandos Norwegen, 
Abt. Ia in der Zeit vom 1 .3.-31 .3.41 . in Taetigkeitsberichte des Armee-Oberkom- 
mandos Norwegen, Maerz 1941. AOK 20 12564/5. 

56 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.). Nr. 44355/41, Weisung an den Wehrmachtsbe- 
fehlshaber Norwegen ueber seine Aufgaben im Fall "Barbarossa," 7.4.41, (no folder 
title). OKW 1838. 

ss A.O.K. Norwegen, Abt. Ic, Nr. 110/41, Ic Besprechung beim OKW v. 5.6.- 
6.6.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 4.5.-18.6.41. AOK 20 20844/5. 


for the defense of Norway north of Narvik. For that task he had, 
aside from naval units and coastal artillery, the 199th Infantry Divi- 
sion, the 9th SS-Regiment, three machine gun battalions, a police 
battalion, and ( proposed ) a bicycle battalion — essentially the 1 8 battal- 
ions Hitler demanded. The first of the offensive missions, Operation 
Renntier, was to be prepared in such a manner that Pechenga could 
be occupied at any time, at the latest three days after receipt of an ap- 
propriate order. The second, under the code name Platinfuchs, 
would be launched either after Renntier or directly from Norway, in 
which case it would include the occupation of Pechenga. It would 
take the form of an advance along the arctic coast to Port Vladimir and 
Polyarnyy with the objective of closing Kola Bay above Murmansk. 
Whether Kola Bay could then be crossed and Murmansk occupied would 
depend on the situation and terrain conditions found on reaching 
Polyarnyy. The forces to be employed were the 2d and 3d Mountain 
Divisions, a communications battalion, a construction battalion, an 
antiaircraft battalion (less 2 batteries), two batteries of 105 -mm. guns, 
and a Nebelwerfer (rocket launcher) battery. 57 

The XXXVI Corps was to execute the main German attack, the 
operation against Kandalaksha, code-named Polarfuchs. The corps 
would consist of the 169th Infantry Division, SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord," 
the Finnish 6th Division (detached from the Finnish III Corps), two 
battalions of tanks, two motorized artillery battalions, two construction 
battalions, a bridge-construction battalion, a heavy weapons battalion, 
a communications battalion, two batteries of antiaircraft artillery, and 
a Nebelwerfer battery. After assembling its forces east of Rovaniemi, 
the XXXVI Corps would direct the weight of its attack along the road 
Rovaniemi-Kandalaksha, enveloping and reducing the Russian border 
strong point at Salla and then pressing on to Kandalaksha. Once 
Kandalaksha was taken it would become necessary to provide security 
against an attack from the south, push northward along the railroad, 
and take Murmansk in conjunction with the operations of the Mountain 
Corps Norway. 

Because of uncertainty concerning the scale of Finnish participation, 
the April order to the XXXVI Corps was in part tentative. The 
Army of Norway proposed a secondary attack, probably by the Finnish 
6th Division to be launched from Kuusamo, 65 miles south of Salla, 
via Kesten'ga to Loukhi on the Murmansk railroad and reconnaissance 
via Ukhta toward Kem. 58 The Commanding General, XXXVI Corps, 
General der Kavallerie Hans Feige, tentatively suggested employing 
his main force in the southern attack in order to strike northward be- 
hind Salla at Kayrala, where the Salla— Kandalaksha road passed be- 

67 A. O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 14/41, Operationsanweisung fuer das Geb. Korps 
Norwegen, 18.4.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 

58 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 53/41, Operationsanweisung fuer das Hoehere Kom- 
mando XXXVI, 20.4.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 


tween two lakes and over a line of commanding hills, and at the crossing 
of the Tuntsa River. Such a maneuver, he thought, would deny the 
Russians the possibility of executing a defense in depth; but he was 
aware that the road and terrain conditions spoke against a sweeping 
envelopment.^ 9 

On June 1 1, after the Finnish participation had been made final, the 
Army of Norway issued a supplement to its April order and an opera- 
tion order for the Finnish III Corps which would be attached to the 
German forces. The III Corps (one division plus border guards, the 
second division being attached to the XXXVI Corps) would provide 
offensive flank security south of the XXXVI Corps zone. It would 
attack from the vicinity of Suomussalmi via Ukhta toward Kem with 
its main force and send a secondary force from Ukhta via Kesten'ga to 
Loukhi. The Finnish 6th Division advance from the vicinity of Kuu- 
samo, instead of being directed toward Loukhi, would be turned north- 
eastward behind Salla toward the Tuntsa River near Allakurtti. Both 
the XXXVI Corps and the III Corps were to come under the command 
of Headquarters, Army of Norway, which would be established at 
Rovaniemi to direct Operation Silberfughs — all German and Finnish 
operations out of Finland north of the line Oulu-Belomorsk. 60 

The roles of the Navy and Air Force in Operation Silberfughs 
were to be limited. The Navy even expected to have to halt supply 
shipping along the arctic coast until Russian naval supremacy in the 
Arctic Ocean could be overcome. It saw the occupation of Polyarnyy 
and Murmansk as the most likely means of reducing the effectiveness of 
Russian and possible British naval operations. For that reason Admiral 
Raeder had insisted from the first on the occupation of Murmansk as 
one of the Navy's primary requirements. 61 The Fifth Air Force 
(Norway) retained about 200 combat planes for its primary mission, 
the defense of Norway, and made the following available for 


Long-range reconnaissance one flight 3 

Dive Bombers one group 30 

Bombers one squadron 10 

Fighters ■ one squadron 10 

Reconnaissance planes attached to AOK Norway : 7 

Total 60 

° 9 Hoeheres Kommando z. b. V. XXXVI, Der Befehlshaber, la, 510/41, in "Silber- 
fuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 

60 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 148/41, Operationsanweisung fuer das V. finnische 
Armee-Korps, 10.6.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 4.5.-18.6.41. AOK 20 20844/5. 
A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 53/41, Operationsanweisung Hoeh. Kdo. XXXVI., 11.6.41, 
in "Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. A.O.K. Norwegen, la, 
Kriegstagebuch, 3.6.41-13.1.42,2 Jul 41. AOK 20 35198/1. 

61 Admiral Norwegen, B Nr. 20, Vorgang: 1 Ski. I op. 262/41 v. 6.3.41, Betrifft: 
Fall "Barbarossa," 25.3.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. I, 10.1.-8.5.41. AOK 20 20844/4. 
Die Seekriegsleitung und die Vorgeschichte des Feldzuges gegen Russland, pp. 22, 
25. H 22/439. 


That modest force was to operate against Soviet naval units in the 
Arctic Ocean, provide close support for the Army of Norway, and carry 
out a variety of other missions including destruction of the port facilities 
at Polyarnyy and Murmansk, interdiction of troop movements on the 
Murmansk Railroad, destruction of Soviet air installations, and destruc- 
tion of locks in the Baltic- White Sea Canal (which the Navy insisted on 
to prevent the transfer of Soviet light naval units from the Baltic to the 
White Sea). 62 

The German-Finnish Conversations, May-June 1941 

On 25 May the OKW opened three days of conferences with a Fin- 
nish military delegation headed by General Heinrichs and including the 
chiefs of operations, mobilization, supply, and the chief of staff of the 
Finnish Navy. In his opening remarks Jodl depicted the forthcoming 
attack on the Soviet Union as a preventive operation. Germany, he 
said, had a friendly treaty relationship with the Soviet Union which was 
economically advantageous; opposed to that was an unprovoked Soviet 
concentration of forces on the German border which was forcing Ger- 
many to take appropriate countermeasures. Germany intended to 
clarify the situation through political channels in the immediate future. 
If that were to "prove impossible, a military solution would almost cer- 
tainly become necessary in order not to allow the Soviet Union to choose 
its own time. 63 The course of the war could be predicted with cer- 
tainty: participation of many small states in a crusade against Bol- 
shevism and, especially, the superiority of the German armed forces 
would, after certain territories had been taken, reduce the Soviet Union 
to military impotence. The Soviet collapse would come earliest in the 
north. The chief task of the Finns, Jodl explained, would be to tie 
down Russian forces in the Lake Ladoga area. A bloody breakthrough 
battle was not demanded since the Soviet front would collapse of itself 
as German Army Group North advanced. 

On the following day Haider took a different tack and asked for the 
creation of a strong striking force which could attack either east or west 
of Lake Ladoga depending on the development of the situation. He 
anticipated that the Finnish attack would begin about 14 days after 
the Germans launched Barbarossa. After the conference the OKW 
explained that Jodl had only set forth the minimum expectation. The 
Finns, for their part, indicated that the Lake Ladoga area was of greatest 
interest to them ; therefore, they would not confine themselves to waiting 
but would attack. 

62 Luftflottenkommando 5, Fuehrungsabteilung la, Br. Nr. 88/41, Weisung fuer 
den Kampf im Falle "Barbarossa," 12.6.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 4.5.-81.6.41. 
AOK 20 20844/5. 

63 This preventive war argument was revived by the defense at the Nuremberg War 
Crimes Trials. It does not appear to have been used in 1941 as anything more than 
a convenient excuse. 


The Finns wanted to concentrate all of their strength on the Lake 
Ladoga front and argued against detaching a corps to participate in 
the German advance toward Kandalaksha. For the same reason they 
wanted the Germans to assume responsibility for the reduction of Hanko. 
Those questions, along with others relating to the exact direction of the 
Finnish main effort and the time of mobilization, were left undecided 
for the time being. Since the military delegation lacked authority to 
make any commitments — but Heinrichs pointed out that its presence 
indicated the Finnish position — the conversations were adjourned to 3 
June, when they were to be resumed in Helsinki. 64 

In the meeting of 25 May Jodl stated that Falkenhorst would com- 
mand in northern and central Finland (Silberfuchs) and Marshal 
Mannerheim would command in the south on the Ladoga front. Man- 
nerheim would be in direct touch with the OKH. This represented a 
departure from the earlier German intention, expressed as late as 28 
April in a preliminary plan for the conversations with the Finns, to 
offer the over-all command in Finland to Mannerheim. 65 The reasons 
for the decision to institute separate commands in Finland are not clear. 
One, probably, was the desire of the OKW to command in an active 
theater. Another might have been the fact that Mannerheim could be 
brought into the planning only at a very late stage, too late for him to 
assume command at the start of the campaign. That possibility is to 
some extent supported by Mannerheim's statement that late in June 
1941 — after operations had begun — he was tentatively approached on 
the subject of assuming full command in Finland. 66 In any case, as 
far as the success of Operation Silberfuchs was concerned, the division 
of command was not serious, since the operation was, as Haider char- 
acterized it, merely an "expedition" not fundamentally related either to 
Barbarossa or to the Finnish operations in the south. What was 
serious was that the Germans, when they established independent Ger- 
man and Finnish commands, compounded their more basic error of 
failing to bring Mannerheim under their direct control by preliminary 
agreement and so lost all hope of keeping him in hand and laid them- 
selves open to the dangers of coalition warfare. 

According to Clausewitz the worst possible situation is that in which 
two independent commanders find themselves operating in the same 
theater of war. Why the Germans fell into that trap is not easily dis- 

u OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. (I Op.), Nr. 44793/31, Protokoll ueber die Besprechung 
mit den Vertretern der finnischen Wehrmacht am 25.5.41 in Salzburg, 25.5.41, OKW, 
Abt. Ausland, Nr. 183/41, 28.5.41; and Buschenhagen, Lfd. Nr. 51/41, 28.5.41, 
an AOK Norwegen, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 4.5.-18.6.41. AOK 20 20844/5. 
OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (IN), Nr. 991/41, Protokoll ueber die deutsch-fin- 
nischen Besprechungen am 26.5.41, in Chefsachen Fremde Heere Ost, Bd. I. 

66 OKW, Abt. L, Nr. 44594/41, Vorschlag fuer die Vorbereitung der Besprechungen 
ueber Beteiligung Finnlands am Unternehmen "Barbarossa," 28.4.41, (no folder 
title). OKW/1938. 

85 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 450. 


covered. In Directive No. 2 1 the OKW was given the task of approach- 
ing Finland and Romania and arranging "the manner in which their 
military contingents will be placed under German command at the time 
of their intervention"; but there is no indication of an attempt at any 
time to carry out the order with respect to Finland. Probably in the 
prevailing optimism of 1941 it was not thought possible that a situation 
could develop which would undermine the Finns' will to collaborate; 
moreover, for a short, victorious campaign in which Finland, after all, 
was only expected to stage a diversion on the outer flank, a tight integra- 
tion of the Finnish forces was not necessary and could entail unwanted 
obligations with respect to reinforcements and supplies. 

When the talks resumed on 3 June Colonels Buschenhagen and Eber- 
hard Kinzel, representing the - OKW and the OKH respectively, found 
the Finnish General Staff prepared to accept the German May pro- 
posals. The Finnish main force would be assembled in such a manner 
that, depending on the wishes of the OKH, an attack could be launched 
either east or west of Lake Ladoga on five days' notice. The attack east 
of the lake, which the Finns recognized as the most advantageous mili- 
tarily, would be opened by a force of five infantry divisions and a mixed 
infantry and cavalry division. Up to seven additional divisions were 
to be employed later as they became available. Heinrichs warned that 
it would be wrong to expect too much of the Finnish Army. The Svir 
River was the objective, but it could be reached only under exceedingly 
favorable circumstances. 

The III Corps (two divisions) and the Pechenga Detachment (three 
companies and a battery of artillery) would be attached to the Army 
of Norway. The Finns undertook to occupy the Aland Islands and 
seal off Hanko, but they wanted the attack on Hanko to be executed by 
a German division brought in from Norway. 

For the event that Germany and the Soviet Union reached a peaceful 
settlement Finland wanted a guaranty of its independence, if possible 
with its old boundaries, and economic assistance. Also in the political 
sphere, Heinrichs cautioned that any attempt to install a "Quisling- 
type" government in Finland would put an immediate end to the 
German-Finnish collaboration. 67 

On 14 June, three days before the Finnish general mobilization began, 
the President of Finland and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the 
Parliament approved the military arrangements. 68 On the following 
day the Finns submitted an urgent request that, before ordering the 
mobilization, they be given either an assurance that war would ensue 

67 A.O.K. Norwegen, Der Chef des Generalstabes, Nr. 140/41, Ergebnis der 
deutsch-finnischen Besprechungen in Helsinki, 3— 5.6.1941 , in "Silberfuchs," Bd. II, 
4.5.-18.6.41. AOK 20 20844/5. Fremde Heere Ost, Chef, Nr. 74/41, Protokoll 
ueber die Besprechungen in Finnland vom 3.-6. Juni 1941, in Chef sachen Fremde 
Heere Ost, Bd. I. H 3/1. 

as Mil. Att., Nr. 78/41, fuer OKW Fuehrungsamt, 15.6.41, in Chefsachen, Bd. 
1941. H 27/43. 


Commanding General, Army of Norway, Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, 
right , walking through the woods with Generalmajor Erich Buschenhagen, left, 
and Kenraaliluutnantti Petal Oesterman. {Photo taken after I August 1941, when 
Buschenhagen was promoted to Generalmajor.) 

or a binding promise that, in the event of a peaceful settlement, the 
political desires they had stated earlier would be met. In reply Keitel 
authorized the Military Attache to state that "the demands and condi- 
ditions raised by Finland concerning the measures to be taken are to 
be regarded as fulfilled." M The general mobilization was ordered on 
17 Tune. 

Colonel Buschcnhagen, accompanied by General der Infanterie Wald- 
emar Erfurth, returned to Helsinki by plane on the afternoon of 13 
June. Two days later Buschenhagen established the Headquarters, 
Army of Norway in Finland, at Rovaniemi, and control of the Finnish 
III Corps passed to the Army of Norway. In order to avoid attracting 
Russian attention Falkenhorst remained in Norway another week, ar- 
riving in Rovaniemi on 2 1 June. Thereafter the Army of Norway main- 
tained two headquarters more than a thousand miles apart. The greater 
part of its staff remained in Norway, and supplementary staff sections 
were improvised for the direction of operations out of Finland. General 
Erfurth as Chief, Liaison Staff North, was attached to Mannerhehn's 
headquarters as the representative of the OKW and the OKH in Fin- 
land. At the request of the Finns a Finnish general officer had also been 
assigned to the OKH. 

m OKW, WFSt, an Abt. AusL, 15.6.41, (no folder title). OKW/1972 Buschen- 
hagen, an OKW fuer Gen. Jodl, 15.6.41, in Chefsachen, Bd. 1941. H 27/43. 


The two questions still to be settled were those regarding the exact 
time and place of the Finnish attack. Apparently they had been left 
undecided not because of the scruples of the Finns but because the 
Germans did not want to reveal the starting date for their own opera- 
tions against the Soviet Union and because the OKH desired a slight 
delay in order to be able to time the Finnish attack properly in relation 
to the progress of the German Army Group North. On 16 June Erfurth 
informed the OKH that General Heinrichs, on instructions from Man- 
nerheim, had asked that the Finnish main operation not begin until 
two or three days after the start of Silberfuchs because, as Erfurth 
wrote, "The Finns want to create the impression among their own 
people and people's representatives of being drawn in by the course of 
events." 70 The OKH replied that the timing of the Finnish operation 
would depend on the development of the battle on the German front, 
but the Finnish request would be kept in mind. 71 

When the German armies marched into Russia on 22 June Finland 
declared its neutrality, which it maintained officially until the night of 
25 June. After severe Soviet air attacks on the cities of southern Finland 
on the 25th, the Premier informed a secret session of Parliament that 
the nation, having been attacked, was proceeding to defend itself with 
all means, and was, therefore, at war. 72 On the previous night with 
German operations in the Soviet Union going according to schedule, 
the OKH had made its decision regarding the location of the Finnish 
attack and had instructed Erfurth to tell the Finns that they were to 
prepare for an operation east of Lake Ladoga by at least six divisions 
with the weight of the attack on the left and the objective set at a dis- 
tance. Five days later the Finns submitted a plan of attack which ful- 
filled the German requirements. On 4 July with the Army Group North 
drawing up to the Dvina River, the last major natural obstacle before 
Leningrad, and no serious resistance anticipated, Haider decided that 
the time had come to set the date for the Finnish attack. Taking into 
account the Finns' desire for five to seven days' advance notice, the first 
day of operations was to be 10 July. 73 

70 Erfurth, an OKH Attache Abteilung, fuer GenStdH, Op. Abt., 16.6.41, in 
Chefsachen Bd. 1941. H 27/43. 

71 OKH, Att. Abt. (z.b.V.), GenStdH, 130/41, an den deutschen Militaer attache 
in Helsingfors, in Chefsachen Bd. 1941. H 27/43. 

72 On 24 June Finland had agreed to permit German aircraft to take off from 
Finnish territory for operations against the Soviet Union and to permit ground 
reconnaissance by the Army of Norway units across the Finnish— Soviet border as of 
midnight that day. Verbindungsstab Nord, la 77/41 ,. an A. O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland, in A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., Anlagenband 1. AOK 20 19070/2. 

73 Haider Diary, Vol. VI, pp. 144, 156, 1 75, 189. 


Chapter 8 
Operation SILBERFUCHS (I) 

Concentration of Forces 

The concentration of the Army of Norway forces for Silberfuchs 
was itself an undertaking of major proportions. In the far north, the 
Mountain Corps Norway had to move the 3d Mountain Division from 
Narvik to Kirkenes and bring in from southern Norway the 199th In- 
fantry Division and the staff of the 702d Infantry Division plus miscella- 
neous units amounting to several battalions. The 2d Mountain Division 
was already in the Kirkenes area. At the same time the SS-Kampf- 
gruppe "Nord," coming through Sweden, had to be transported from 
Narvik to Kirkenes. The sea afforded the only practicable means of 
transportation since Reichsstrasse 50, completed from Narvik to Kirkenes 
in the fall of 1940, at first could not be kept clear of snow and in June 
was rendered useless by the thaw. The road south of Narvik was 
blocked in numerous places by ice in the ferry crossings of the fiords. 1 
Transfer of the 199th Infantry Division and the staff of the 702d In- 
fantry Division was completed at the end of May; but the last elements 
of the 3d Mountain Division did not reach their assembly area south 
of Kirkenes until 17 June; and assembly of the SS-Kampfgruppe was 
completed on 6 June, barely in time to begin the march southward 
through Finland along the Arctic Ocean Highway to Rovaniemi on 
the 7th. 2 

The assault force of the Mountain Corps Norway (the 2d and 3d 
Mountain Divisions plus service troops) numbered 27,500 men. 3 For 
its supplies the Mountain Corps Norway was to draw on a one year's 
stockpile which Hitler, in the fall of 1940, had ordered accumulated 
in Norway. Supplies were to be brought into the zone of operations 
by ship as far as possible; in emergencies they were to come overland 
from Narvik via Reichsstrasse 50. 4 

1 AOK Norwegen, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armee-Oberkommandos Norwegen, Abt. 
Ia in der Zeit vom 1 .5— 31 .5.1941 , in Taetigkeitsberichte des Armee-Oberkommando 
Norwegen, Mai 1941. AOK 20 12564/7. 

2 Generalkommando Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Ia, Taetigkeitsbericht fuer Monat 
Juni 1941, 1.7. 1941. AOK 20 14030/3. 

3 AOK Norwegen, O. Qu., Qu. 1, "Silberfuchs," 9.5.41, in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 
4.5.-18.6.41. AOK 20 20844/5. 

4 A OK Norwegen O. Qu., Qu. 1, Nr. 326/41, Besondere Anordnungen fuer die 
Versorgung zum Operationsbefehl fuer das Geb. Korps Norwegen, 13.5.41 , in g. Kdos. 
Chefsache Gebirgskorps Norwegen Ia/Ost, 19.5.-23.12.41. AOK 20 26373/1. 


Transfer of the main force of the XXXVI Corps to Finland was ac- 
complished in two sea transport operations: Blaufuchs 1 (169th Di- 
vision, 20,000 men, from Stettin to Oulu) and Blaufuchs 2 (Head- 
quarters, XXXVI Corps, and corps troops, 10,600 men, Oslo to Oulu) . 
The first ships sailed on 5 June, and operations were completed on 14 
June. The 8,000 men of the SS-Kampfgruppe reached Rovaniemi 
on 10 June. These troop movements were carried out under the guise 
of a relief operation for northern Norway ; and the XXXVI Corps was 
ordered not to turn eastward from the line Oulu— Rovaniemi— Arctic 
Ocean Highway until 18 June, the date on which it was considered no 
longer possible to conceal the forthcoming attack on Russia. With 
its movement thus restricted it became impossible for the XXXVI Corps 
to draw up to the Finnish eastern border in time to open an offensive on 
22 June, Barbarossa Day. The XXXVI Corps, exclusive of attached 
Finnish units, totaled 40,600 troops. The corps was initially provided 
with rations for three months, ammunition for two to three months, and 
motor fuel for two months. The management of supplies for Finland 
as well as Norway was in the hands of the Heimatstab Nord, renamed, 
in June 1941, Heimatstab Uebersee. 5 

For the defense of Norway, the Army of Norway retained seven 
divisions organized into the LXX Corps (three divisions, headquarters 
in Oslo), the XXXIII Corps (two divisions, headquarters at Trond- 
heim), and the Territorial Staff of the Mountain Corps Norway (two 
divisions, headquarters at Alta). 6 It had also 160 batteries of army 
coastal artillery, 56 batteries of naval coastal artillery, 6 police battalions, 
an SS-Regiment, and 3 motorized machine gun battalions. The troops 
in Norway numbered about 150,000. 7 In conjunction with the con- 
centration of forces for the attack on Russia the units in Norway were 
assigned to Operation Harpune Nord, an elaborately staged deception 
intended to make it appear that the invasion of England was next on 
the German timetable. In Norway, Denmark, and France (Harpune 
Sued ) the Germans went through the motions of preparing an amphibi- 
ous attack on England timed for about 1 August 1941 . 8 

5 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. (7 Op.), Anlage 1, Zeitplan "Barbarossa," 5.6.41; OKW, 
WFSt, Abt. L. (I Op.). Nr. 44803/41, an W.B. Norwegen, 26.5.41; AOK Nor- 
wegen, O. Qu. Qu. 1, 6/41, "Silberfuchs," in "Silberfuchs" Bd. II, 4.5.-18.6.41. 
AOK 20 20844/5. AOK Norwegen O. Qu., Qu. 1, Nr. 326/41, Besondere An- 
ordnungen fuer die Versorgung zum Operationsbefehl "Polarfuchs" (Hoeh. Kdo. 
XXXVI), 14.5.41, in g. kdos, Chefsache Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Ia/Ost, 19.5 — 
23.12.41 AOK 20 26373/1. 169. I.D., Fuehrungsabt, in Kriegstagebuch Nr. 2, 
Teil 1, 1.6.-9.9.41, 6, 7, 11 June 1941. 169 I.D. 20291/2. 

6 On 28 June the Territorial Staff was detached from the Mountain Corps Norway 
and made directly subordinate to the Army of Norway, Headquarters Oslo. Hence- 
forth it was designated as Provisional Corps "Nagy." 

7 OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., Sicherungskraefte Norwegen (geplanter Stand vom 
1. 6.41), 8.5.41. H 1/38 lb. 

8 AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 6/41, Operationsbefehl Nr. 1 fuer die Vorbereitung der 
Unternehmung "Harpune," in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer Monat Mai. AOK 20 


On 22 June, when the German armies in the south crossed the Soviet 
frontier, the Mountain Corps Norway, unopposed, executed Renntier 
with the 2d Mountain Division taking up positions in the Liinahamari- 
Pechenga area and the 3d Mountain Division along a line extending 
farther south to the vicinity of Luostari. 9 On the same day the Army 
of Norway ordered the attack across the Finnish-Russian border to be 
begun on 29 June by the Mountain Corps Norway, on 1 July at 0200 
by the Finnish III Corps, and on 1 July 1600 by the XXXVI Corps. 10 
Staggered timing was employed for the purpose of making air support 
available for the initial assault in each corps sector. The aircraft had 
to shift from their main bases at Kirkenes and Banak to Rovaniemi for 
missions in the XXXVI Corps area. Beginning on 23 June they flew 
missions against Murmansk and Salla. The Russians retaliated with 
attacks on Pechenga, Kemiyarvi, and Rovaniemi. 

On 23 June negotiations for the transit of one division across Sweden 
from southern Norway to Finland began in Stockholm. The Swedish 
Government gave its consent two days later, and OKW ordered the 163d 
Infantry Division to begin moving out of Oslo on the 26th. The 
division was replaced in Norway by the 710th Infantry Division from 
Germany. Contrary to the earlier intention of committing the 163d 
Division at Hanko, the OKW ordered it attached immediately to the 
Finnish Army as Mannerheim's reserve for operations in the Lake 
Ladoga area. 11 

The concentration of German forces in northern Finland clearly re- 
vealed the serious and in most respects insuperable problems with re- 
spect to its communications lines which would confront Army of Nor- 
way in the forthcoming campaign. From its main base in Norway 
the army had four tenuous routes of access to Finland: (1) The sea 
route around the northern tip of Norway to Kirkenes and Pechenga. 
It could not be protected against British or Russian naval attack and 
at the entrance to Pechenga harbor passed within range of Russian 
artillery on the Rybatchiy Peninsula. (2) Reichsstrasse 50 from Nar- 
vik to Kirkenes. In 1941 the road did not have an all-weather surface, 
and the snow removal techniques were inadequate. (3) The land 
routes, road (one) and railroad, through Sweden. For the use of 
these, permission, which was granted more and more reluctantly after 
June 1941, had to be secured from the Swedish Government. (4) The 
sea route through the Baltic. While the Baltic Sea was relatively safe 
for shipping, the Finnish ports at the head of the Gulf of Bothnia had 
low capacities and were icebound during four to five months of the year; 

Saturn Geier, Ia, Nr. 409/41, Morgenmeldung 22.6.41 and Saturn Geier, la, Nr. 
418/41, Morgenmeldung 25.6.41, in Geb. Korps Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht 
fuer Monat Juni 1941, 1.7.41. AOK 20 14030/3. 

10 AOK Norwegen, Abt. Ia, Nr. 111/41, Armeebefehl, 22.6.41 in g.kdos. Chefsache 
Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Ia/Ost, 19.5-23.12.41. AOK 20 26373/1. 

11 AOK Norwegen, Befehlsstell'e Finnland, Ia, Kriegstagebuch, 3.6.41-13.1 .42. 
(hereafter referred to as A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B.) 23-30 June. AOK 20 35198/1. 


moreover, Germany lacked the merchant vessels to maintain simultaneous 
traffic to Norway, the arctic ports, and in the Baltic. 

Aside from being less vulnerable, the army's lines of communication 
inside Finland were no better. It had one single-track railroad running 
along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia from Oulu to Kemi and thence 
north to Rovaniemi and Kemiyarvi with a connecting line to the Swedish 
border east of Tornio. Rolling stock was scarce, and, because the Fin- 
nish railroads were built to the Russian gauge, German equipment could 
not be supplied immediately. For the same reason rail shipments from 
Sweden had to be transloaded at the border. Since the Finnish engines 
burned wood, their hauling capacity was low, and it required 70 to 80 
trains to move one German division. On the average, the Army of 
Norway could count on no more than three trains a day from Oulu to 
Rovaniemi. The road net in northern Finland was thin. Few of the 
roads could be called improved even in a relative sense, and very few 
of the bridges were capable of carrying heavy military equipment. In 
the north, the Arctic Ocean Highway was the sole link between Rov- 
aniemi and Pechenga. As such it was of major importance to Army of 
Norway operations in Finland, but it, too, had been built to meet the 
limited requirements of Finnish internal traffic. As a supply route its 
usefulness was marginal, since, on the 600-mile round trip from Rov- 
aniemi to Pechenga, trucks nearly consumed the weight of their payloads 
in gasoline. 12 

PLATINFUCHS (Operations of Mountain Corps Norway) 

Harsh climate and forbidding terrain were the distinguishing features 
of the Mountain Corps Norway zone of operations. At Pechenga 
Bay the influence of the Gulf Stream is still strong enough to permit a 
lush summer vegetation — grasses, bushes, and a few trees — near the bay 
and along the Pechenga River valley. East of Pechenga the coast is 
bare ; the rock surface is gouged and molded into a wild jumble of rises 
and depressions; giant boulders, rocks, and gravel supply the texture of 
the landscape. In the valleys, many of which have no outlets, the melt- 
ing snows have formed hundreds of lakes. This belt of rocky tundra 
varies in width from less than ten miles near Pechenga to 25 or 30 miles 
in the vicinity of Kola Bay where the effect of the Gulf Stream rapidly 
diminishes, although it keeps the bay and the port of Murmansk open 
throughout the year. Inland the tundra gradually shades off into the 
coniferous forests of the taiga. The winter, which on this inhospitable 
coast lasts from October to May, is a succession of arctic storms and 
blizzards; but the temperature (low —13° Fahrenheit) does not reach 
the extremes frequently recorded farther south ( — 45° in southern Lap- 
land and _ 40° in Karelia and southern Finland) . The summer brings 

12 General der Infanterie a.D. Erich Buschenhagen, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945, May 1957. 


an average of 40 days with a mean temperature over 50°. Even though 
the daytime temperature occasionally rises into the 80's, on the heights 
and in protected spots in the valleys patches of snow and ice often last 
through the summer. In summer, winds off the ocean drive in banks 
of fog which blanket the coast for periods ranging from a few hours to 
weeks at a time. 

After completing Operation Renntier on 22 June, the Mountain 
Corps Norway assembled its two divisions (each consisting of two rifle 
regiments and a regiment of artillery) along the Arctic Ocean Highway. 
The objective of the ensuing Operation Platinfuchs (as stated in the 
corps order), scheduled to begin on 29 June, was Murmansk, 56 miles 
east of the Soviet Finnish border. Dietl intended to strike with the 2d 
Mountain Division along the coast via Titovka, Bol'shaya Zapadnaya 
Litsa, and Ura Guba to Polyarnyy near the mouth of Kola Bay and 
with the 3d Mountain Division southeastward via Motovka to Mur- 
mansk. For the purpose the 2d Mountain Division was assembled 
around Pechenga while the 3d Mountain Division took up positions in 
the vicinity of Luostari. 

The objective of the first phase of Platinfuchs was the line Motovka- 
Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa. On its left flank the 2d Mountain Divi- 
sion was to commit one regiment which, after sealing off the neck 
of the Rybatchiy Peninsula with one battalion, would thrust south- 
eastward through Titovka to Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa. The main 
force of the division, one reinforced regiment, was to strike southeast- 
ward from Pechenga to the road Titovka-Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa, 
running just east of the Zapadnaya Litsa River. The 3d Mountain Di- 
vision, with one regiment in the assault, would attack past Chapr Lake 
toward Motovka. Fifty-five miles farther south the Finnish "Ivalo" 
Battalion (Pechenga Detachment) would stage a diversionary attack 
north of the Lutto River to tie down Soviet forces in the vicinity of 
Ristikent. 13 

To the Litsa River 

At 0300 on 29 June the attack began without air support in a heavy 
morning fog. Within three hours the 3d Mountain Division was ferry- 
ing troops across the Titovka, and the units of the 2d Mountain Division 
had reported good progress. Before noon the entire situation was 
changed by a discovery that the roads shown on the maps between the 
Titovka River valley and Motovka and from Motovka to Bol'shaya 
Zapadnaya Litsa did not exist. The Mountain Corps Norway, conclud- 
ing that it could not supply two divisions moving on parallel courses 

Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Nr. 98/41, Befehl fuer die Bereitstellung 
und den Angnff des Gel. Korps Norwegen am 29.6.-25.6.41, in Gebirgskorps Nor- 
wegen,K.T.B. 1 . Anlagenband 1. XIX AK 15085/2. 


over pathless tundra, immediately stopped the advance of the 3d Moun- 
tain Division, ordering its main force to pull back to the Arctic Ocean 
Highway and move into the Pechenga area behind the 2d Mountain 
Division. Of the one regiment already on the Titovka River, two bat- 
talions were ordered to proceed northward along the river valley into 
the 2d Mountain Division zone while one battalion executed a sweeping 
arc northeastward to make contact with the right flank regiment of the 
2d Mountain Division on a road connecting the Titovka and Litsa Rivers 
about five miles inland from the coast. That road proved hardly worthy 
of the name although it was the northern segment of the main route to 
Kola Bay. 14 

Before the end of the first day's fighting, the terrain, bad maps, and 
unsatisfactory aerial reconnaissance had forced the Mountain Corps 
Norway to revise its plan of operations. While the 3d Mountain Division 
assembled behind the right wing of the 2d Mountain Division, the right 
regiment of the latter supported by a battalion of the 3d Mountain 
Division would push down the road to the Litsa bridge, seven miles 
southwest of Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa. The bridge and the road from 
there to Kola Bay, at least, offered a new operational possibility since 
they had not been positively identified before the operation began. 15 

On the 30th the left flank regiment of the 2d Mountain Division took 
Titovka with one battalion, but its remaining two battalions were tied 
down in heavy fighting at the neck of the Rybatchiy Peninsula where 
the Russians landed reinforcements on the eastern shore in the vicinity 
of Kutovaya, supporting the landings with destroyer fire. The right 
flank regiment pushed a battalion through to the west bank of the Litsa 
River on the following day, while fighting continued around Kutovaya. 
It was becoming clear that the task facing the Mountain Corps Norway 
was more difficult than had been anticipated. In the Murmansk region 
the Russians had two full divisions, of which two regiments were 
digging in to hold the Litsa River line. 16 Another regiment with at 
least one battalion of artillery was identified on the Rybatchiy Penin- 
sula. Contrary to the original German assumption, these were no 
mediocre units; ably led, they fought with skill and determination; and 
they had the advantage of air superiority, since the Fifth Air Force, 
already inferior in numbers, was forced to shift its operations back and 
forth between the Mountain Corps area and that of the XXXVI Corps 
in the south. In addition, the German attack, thrown off balance by 
initial errors with regard to the location of roads, was slowed down by 

14 Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, 19.6.-31 .12.41 (here- 
after referred to as G.K.N. , K.T.B. l.),29 Jun 41. XIX AK 15085/1. 

15 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Nr. 140/41 , Korpsbefehl fuer die Fortsetzung 
der Operationen nach Osten, 29.6.41, in Gebirgskorps Norwegen la, Kriegstagebuch 
Russland 1 , Anlagenband 1 . XIX AK 15085/2. 

10 The 14th and 52d Rifle Divisions of the Fourteenth Army, which with approxi- 
mately six and one-half divisions was holding the sector from Murmansk to Belomorsk. 


Tundra in the Peekenga-Litsa River area. 

exceptionally difficult terrain. It was found that even mountain troops 
could not move at a rate exceeding one kilometer per hour. 17 

By 4 July the Rybatchiy Peninsula was sealed off, but two battalions, 
rather than one as originally intended, were required to hold the line. 
On the same day one company succeeded in crossing the Litsa east of 
Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa. Meanwhile, the Mountain Corps Norway 
planned an attack across the river for 6 July. The 2d Mountain Divi- 
sion moved up to the west bank of the river from Bol'shaya Zapadnaya 
Litsa to the Litsa bridge, while the 3d Mountain Division took up 
positions at and south of the bridge. The main thrust was to be at the 
bridge and southeastward along the road. The 2d Mountain Division 
would commit a regiment north of the bridge and the 3d Mountain 
Division a regiment south of the bridge. After the river had been 
crossed the attack was to proceed along the road. 18 

Although hampered by the terrain — the 3d Mountain Division was 
able to get only one battalion in position on the river — the attack was 
launched as planned on the morning of the 6th because the 2d Mountain 
Division assembly area was exposed to enemy artillery fire. In the face 
of determined resistance the attack did not get rolling until late in the 

" Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Nr. 300/41 1 Erfahrungsbericht ueber 
den bisherigen Osteinsatz im Eismeergebiet, 12.1 2 Al (folder). AOK. 20 36037/2. 
A, O.K. 20 lc, Feindlage 3.7.41, in A. O.K. 20 lc, Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 
25353/1, G.K.N., K.T.B. 1, 1 Jul 41. 

™ Gen, Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, 156/41, Befehl fuer Bereitstetlung und 
Angriff des Geb. Korps ueber die Liza am 6.7.41, in Gebirgskorps Norwegen* la, 
Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, Anlagenband ]. XIX AK 15035/2. G.K.N., K.T.B. 
I, 4 Jul 41. 


day, and at the end of the day the 2d Mountain Division had only one 
battalion across the river while the 3d Mountain Division had established 
two battalions in a bridgehead slightly more than a mile wide. In the 
meantime, two Soviet transports, escorted by two destroyers and a 
cruiser, had steamed to the head of Litsa Bay, landing a battalion on 
the north shore and another on the south shore, forcing the 2d Mountain 
Division to screen the left flank of the corps with one battalion. Shortly 
before midnight the corps chief of staff informed Army of Norway Head- 
quarters that, with Russian landings in progress, the flank of the corps 
was endangered and operations across the Litsa could not be continued. 
The troops east of the Litsa held their positions on the 7th, but after 
beating off strong counterattacks during the night they were ordered 
back to the west bank on the following morning. Reporting on the 
situation to the Army of Norway Dietl demanded increased air support 
and stated that he could not proceed without reinforcements of at least 
a regiment and, preferably, a division. 30 

While the Mountain Corps Norway was engaged on the Litsa, Hitler 
became preoccupied with his old fear of a British landing and demanded 
a strengthening of the security forces around Pechenga. The Navy 
undertook to station a flotilla of five destroyers at Kirkenes, and the 
Mountain Corps Norway detached an infantry battalion and three bat- 
teries of artillery to form a mobile defense force. The necessity to 
provide forces for defense of Pechenga, the line on the Rybatchiy Penin- 
sula, and flank defense between Titovka and Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa 
was draining the strength of Dietl's corps. On 7 July the OKW ordered 
the Army of Norway to transfer some troops from the XXXVI Corps and 
to explore the possibility of getting Finnish troops as a means of enabling 
Dietl to reassemble his assault force. The Army of Norway furnished 
a motorized machine gun battalion, and on 9 July prevailed upon- 
Mannerheim to release the Finnish 14th Regiment, less one battalion, 
for employment in the Pechenga area. 20 

Stalemate on the Litsa 

After his troops had withdrawn behind the Litsa Dietl's first intention 
was to launch the 3d Mountain Division in a second attack at the bridge 
and along the road. Whether the attack could be carried out was doubt- 
ful from the first since supplies for the division had to be brought up by 
pack mules, of which, owing to losses through exhaustion, barely enough 
were available to transport rations, not to mention ammunition. The 
plan had to be dropped entirely on 10 July after a dispatch rider carry- 
ing orders for the attack missed a regimental headquarters near Kutovaya 

19 G.K.N. , K.T.B. 1, 7 and 8 Jul 41. 

20 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. (I Op.), Nr. 441165/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland, 7.7.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., Anlagenband 1. AOK 20 19070/2. 
G.K.N., K.T.B. 1, 4-8 Jul 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 8 Jul 41. 


hd drove his motorcycle into the Russian lines. Two days later Dietl 
(lifted the weight of the attack to the left flank of the corps. There 
iie 2d Mountain Division was to attack eastward from the vicinity of 
iol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa to the chain of lakes lying in a rough arc about 
ix miles behind the river. It would then turn south in the rear of the 
Soviet forces defending the river's west bank to create favorable condi- 
ions for an attack at the bridge by the 3d Mountain Division. With one 
livision advancing west of the road and the other east of it the corps then 
htended to push seven miles south of the bridge to where the road passed 
hrough the narrows between Kuirk Lake and an unnamed lake to the 
vest which the Germans called Traun Lake. 21 This was no sweeping 
Envelopment of the type the Germans usually favored but an operation 
jailored to the limitations imposed by arctic terrain, where infantry, at 
best, moved slowly and its supplies slower still. 

i At the end of the first day of operations, 13 July, the 2d Mountain 
Division, with seven battalions across the Litsa east of Bol'shaya Zapad- 
naya Litsa, gained about two miles. On the following day enemy re- 
sistance became noticeably stronger, and Russian ships were again ob- 
served landing troops on the north shore of Litsa Bay. With shipping 
movements and landings reported at several points along the Motovskiy 
knd Litsa Bays, the Chief of Staff, Mountain Corps Norway, concluded 
bn the morning of the 15th that operations would have to be halted until 
jthe threat to the left flank had been eliminated. The attack continued 
(throughout the day, penetrating the chain of lakes at one point, but the 
(prospects were not good. On the 16th the Russians threw strong coun- 
terattacks against the bridgehead from the south and southeast and at- 
tacked along the line sealing off the Rybatchiy Peninsula. The supply 
situation was deteriorating rapidly in the bridgehead and in the 3d Moun- 
tain Division zone as well since the division had a regiment, which it 
had formerly depended on for hauling supplies, committed in the bridge- 
i head. At noon the next day corps told the Army of Norway it could no 
longer continue the advance toward Murmansk; it intended to reduce 
the size of the bridgehead in order to gain enough troops to mop up the 
Russian forces which had landed north of Litsa Bay. Dietl believed he 
could not resume his offensive unless he received at least one additional 
division. 22 

On the 18th, the 2d Mountain Division drew its troops on the 
bridgehead back to a line extending from a waterfall three and one-half 
miles south of Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa to the shore of Litsa Bay two 
miles east of the settlement. The 3d Mountain Division established a 
line on the west bank of the river from the waterfall to a point two and 
one-half miles south of the bridge. With Soviet troops already ashore 

21 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Nr. 165/41, Befehl fuer erneuten Angriff 
des Gebirgskorps ueber die Liza, 17.7.41, in Gebirgskorps Norwegen, K.T.B. 1, 
Anlagenband 1 . XIX AK 15085/2. 

22 G.K.N. , K.T.B. 1, 13-18 Jul 41. A.O.K. Norwegen K.T.B., 17 and 18 Jul 41. 


north of Litsa Bay and landings reported on the south shore of Titovka 
Bay, the corps faced a prospect of defending an almost continuous front 
36 miles long from the western shore of the Rybatchiy Peninsula through 
Titovka and Bol'shaya Zapadnaya Litsa to the right flank of the 3d 
Mountain Division on the Litsa. 23 

On the 21st Dietl conferred with Falkenhorst, Buschenhagen, and the 
Commanding Admiral, Norway. They agreed that, with winter 
weather expected to set in within eight to ten weeks, the Mountain Corps 
could not be left where it was; it would either have to push through 
to Murmansk or pull back into Finland. The Navy, although two 
submarines were to be stationed at Kirkenes in addition to the five de- 
stroyers, could not promise to accomplish much against Soviet move- 
ments by sea because of the distances involved and the Russians' naval 
superiority. Falkenhorst thought it would be possible to scrape to- 
gether an equivalent of three regiments quickly in Norway, but there 
Hitler's strictures against weakening the Norwegian defenses, particularly 
in the north, still stood. 24 

Two days later the Army of Norway informed Dietl that he could 
have two battalions from Norway and ordered him to resume the offen- 
sive. Taking stock of his forces Dietl found that both of his divisions 
had one regiment already seriously run down; three battalions were tied 
down on the northern flank between Titovka and Bol'shaya Zapadnaya 
Litsa and were barely holding the enemy; and the 2d Mountain Division, 
fighting off repeated heavy attacks on the bridgehead, had proposed 
withdrawing behind the Litsa. On the 24th he told army that with 
two fresh battalions he could only undertake to clean out the right flank 
north of Litsa Bay. 25 

On the same day, at the request of the OKW, the Army of Norway 
undertook to review the situation of its three corps. The OKW pro- 
posed that if the operations of the XXXVI Corps and the Finnish III 
Corps did not look promising it be considered whether the XXXVI 
Corps attack could be canceled and forces shifted north to reinforce the 
Mountain Corps and enable it to take Murmansk. The Army of Nor- 
way replied that the Finnish III Corps operation appeared to offer the 
best chance of cutting the Murmansk Railroad at an early date. The 
prospects of the XXXVI Corps did not look good, but if it went over to 
the defensive the Russians would be able to draw out troops to throw 
against either the Finnish III Corps or the Mountain Corps Norway. 
The Mountain Corps, the Army of Norway believed, could still reach 

23 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Nr. 180/41 , Befehl fuer vorlaeufige 
Abwehr an der Liza, 18.7.41, in Gebirgskorps Norwegen, K.T.B. 1, Anlagenband 1. 
XIX AK 15085/2. 

u AOK Norwegen la, Nr. 231/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, in Silberfuchs Bd. Ill, 
12.6.41-10.1.42. AOK 20 20844/6. A.O.K. Norwegen K.T.B., 21 Jul 41. 

25 G.K.N. , K.T.B. 1, 23 and 24 Jul 41. A.O.K. Norwegen K.T.B. , 23 Jul 41. 


Murmansk if an additional mountain division were brought in within 
four weeks. 26 

During the last week of July Russian pressure continued strong, 
particularly against the bridgehead; and on the 30th British carrier-based 
aircraft bombed and strafed Liinahamari and Pechenga. 27 The Moun- 
tain Corps Norway, meanwhile, brought four battalions into position 
for a push northeastward from the line Titovka-Bol'shaya Zapadnaya 
Litsa. The attack, which began on 2 August, progressed rapidly since 
the Russians had made the mistake of spreading their two battalions 
thinly along a ten-mile front. By the 5th one battalion had been wiped 
out and the other, after suffering heavy losses, evacuated to the south 
shore of Litsa Bay. The threat to the corps flank had been eliminated ; 
and with that the fury of the Russian attacks along the Litsa also abated, 
indicating that the Russians were shifting to the defensive. 28 

On 30 July Hitler ordered the 6th Mountain Division transferred to 
the Mountain Corps Norway, but the division was in Greece and at 
best could not make the move before the second half of September. 29 
The Army of Norway, noting that early signs of autumn had already 
appeared in northern Finland, believed quick action was necessary and 
asked for at least two regiments from Norway to get the Mountain Corps 
in motion before the 6th Mountain Division arrived. This request 
Hitler refused on 5 August, maintaining that there would still be time 
in September to reopen the attack. But a week later, after General- 
major Walter Warlimont, Chief of the National Defense Branch, OKW, 
had investigated the situation of the Mountain Corps Norway on the 
spot, Hitler changed his mind and permitted the 388th Infantry Regi- 
ment and the 9th SS-Inf antry Regiment to be withdrawn from Norway 
so that the Mountain Corps could resume its advance. 30 

During the rest of August, while the two fresh regiments were being 
brought up, the Mountain Corps Norway planned a new attack across 
the Litsa with the objective of creating favorable conditions for a rapid 
drive toward Murmansk after the 6th Mountain Division arrived. Dietl 
proposed essentially to repeat the pattern of the last July attack: the 

K OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 441255/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland 24.7.41 and A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 44/41, Lagebeur- 
teilung vom 24.7., in A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B. Anlagenband 1. AOK 20 19070/2. 

27 In July the Finnish "Ivalo" Battalion had advanced to within 12 miles of 
Ristikent. After a number of small but sharp engagements with the Russians it 
fell back at the end of the month to the Akka river near the Finnish-Soviet border 
and thereafter engaged chiefly in patrol activity. The battalion had accomplished 
its mission of tying down Soviet forces southeast of Murmansk. Batl. Ivalo, Abschrift 
von Funkspruch Nr. 153, [1.1.42], in Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Kriegstagebuch Russ- 
land 1, Anlagenband 2, XIX AK 15085/4. 

!8 G.K.N., K.T.B. 1, 25 Jul-5 Aug 41. 

29 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (1 Op.) Nr. 441298/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, 31.7.41, 
in Silberfuchs Bd. Ill, 16.6.41-10.1 .42. AOK 20 20844/6. 

3 "OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.). Nr. 441325/41, an AOK Norwegen Bef. St. 
Finnland, 5.8.41, and OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.). Nr. 441375/41, an AOK 
Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, 13.8.41, in Silberfuchs Bd. Ill, 16.6.41-10.1.42. AOK 
20 20844/6. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 5 and 12 Aug 41. 


3d Mountain Division would attack frontally across the river while the 
2d Mountain Division pushed south from the bridgehead in the rear 
of the Russian positions. The objective would be to inflict heavy losses 
and soften up the enemy rather than to gain ground. The Army of 
Norway, on the other hand, proposed a thrust directed around the 
Russian flank from the right flank of the 3d Mountain Division. The 
thinking at army headquarters was based on experiences of the XXXVI 
Corps and the 163d Division which had shown the 1 Russians in pre- 
pared positions to be particularly insensitive to frontal attacks — invariably 
they sat tight, forcing the attacking troops to chew through the positions 
one by one. Against this Dietl argued that, in an arctic wilderness of 
bare rock hilltops and swampy valleys, envelopments could not gain 
momentum and quickly bogged down. Taking into account the dis- 
advantages of both courses, the Army of Norway still preferred an 
envelopment. The final decision came on 25 August when the Com- 
manding General, 3d Mountain Division, concluded that recent im- 
provements in the Russian positions had reduced the prospects for success 
of a frontal attack and that he could shift his main force several miles 
farther south for a thrust around the enemy flank. 31 

The Last Attempt 

Planning for the new attack centered on three roads: the Russian 
Road (road names are those used by the Germans) , which was the main 
road to Kola Bay and had been the objective of the July operations of 
the 3d Mountain Division; the New Road, which branched off from 
the Russian Road seven miles south of the Litsa Bridge in the narrows 
between Kuirk and Traun Lakes and ran northward about ten miles 
to a junction with the Ura Guba Road; and the Ura Guba Road — 
over most of its length not much more than a path — which after joining 
the New Road ran up to the positions facing the 2d Mountain Division 
bridgehead. These roads were the supply routes for the Soviet front 
on the Litsa. What was perhaps even more important for German 
operations, the New Road, in particular, if it could be reached, provided 
a route of march behind the Russian lines. 

The Mountain Corps intended to mass two regiments, one mountain 
regiment and the 9th SS-Regiment, on the left flank of the 2d Mountain 
Division in the bridgehead, push due east for about two miles, and 
then swing south behind the chain of lakes to the junction of the Ura 
Guba and New Roads. The 3d Mountain Division would assemble 
two regiments south of its right flank for a thrust around the Russian 
left to the fork of the Russian and New Roads and northward along 
the New Road until it made contact with the 2d Mountain Division 

31 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Besuch des Kd. Generals im Raume der 
3. Geb. Div. am 24.7.41, in Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, Anlagenband 2. XIX AK 
15085/4. G.K.N., K.T.B. 1, 14, 18, 19, 22, and 25 Aug 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, 
K.T.B., 18 and 22 Aug 41. 


near the junction with the Ura Guba Road. With one regiment, the 
attached 388th Infantry Regiment, the 3d Mountain Division would 
launch a secondary attack f rontally across the Litsa to take two prominent 
heights, Pranckh Hill and Brandl Hill, two miles south of the bridge. 
Having taken the heights, which were the anchor of the Soviet left flank, 
the regiment would continue east and join the advance along the New 
Road. The attack was to begin on 8 September. 32 

As the Mountain Corps Norway completed its preparations an omi- 
nous new development was already exerting influence on the potential 
outcome of the operation. On 30 August, off the Norwegian north 
coast, a Russian submarine sank two transports carrying replacements 
for the Mountain Corps Norway. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, 
the Army of Norway immediately ordered Dietl to be prepared to carry 
out his advance on Murmansk without awaiting the arrival of the entire 
6th Mountain Division, part of which was scheduled to go by sea. That 
the division would be seriously delayed became obvious on 7 September 
when British naval vessels attacked a convoy carrying troops in the vi- 
cinity of North Cape. The transports managed to hide in a fiord, but 
their escort, the artillery training ship Bremse, was sunk. 33 

Even without regard to doubts concerning the timely arrival of the 
6th Mountain Division, the assessment of the forthcoming Mountain 
Corps Norway operation was strongly pessimistic. On 4 September at 
army headquarters Buschenhagen informed Jodl, operations chief of the 
OKW, that the attack was regarded as particularly difficult and that 
whether Murmansk could be reached before winter depended on the 
results of the first few days. The army already thought it might be better 
to use the 6th Mountain Division in the advance on Kandalaksha were 
it not for Hitler's express desire to take Murmansk as soon as possible. 
On the following day Dietl told Jodl that, even if the impending attack 
and subsequent advance on Murmansk were completely successful, it 
would hardly be possible to reach the west shore of Kola Bay before 
winter set in (early October) . He doubted whether the forces at hand, 
including the 6th Mountain Division, would be sufficient to accomplish 
a crossing to the east shore and occupy Murmansk. Moreover, even if 
the corps reached Murmansk, it could not hope to bring in supplies dur- 
ing the winter either overland from Pechenga or by sea; therefore, the 
railroad north from Kandalaksha would have to be taken and put into 
operation if Murmansk were to be held. That the railroad could be se- 
cured was entirely uncertain. Jodl could only suggest that the projected 
attack be carried out leaving the questions whether to continue on to 

32 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Nr. 185/41, Befehl zum Angriff des 
KoTps am 6.9., 1.8.41, in Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, Anlagenband 1. XIX AK 
15085/2. Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Lagenkarten 20.U.25., 18.8 u. 
7.9.41 in Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, Anlagenband 3. XIX AK 15085/5. G.K.N., 
K.T.B. 1, 27 Aug and 5 Sep 41. 

33 G.K.N ., K.T.B. 1, 31 Aug 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B. , 30 and 31 Aug, 7 
Sep 41. 


Murmansk, hold the line reached, or fall back into Finland for Hitler to 
decide after its conclusion. 34 

After jumping off as scheduled on 8 September, the divisions by after- 
noon reported good progress on both flanks. The 2d Mountain Divi- 
sion had broken out of the bridgehead with its left-flank units and had 
taken Hill 173.7 from which its attack was to swing south. At the same 
time the right flank regiment of the 3d Mountain Division had pushed 
to within a mile and a half of the Kuirk Lake narrows. 

The 388th Infantry Regiment's attack across the Litsa, however, 
had failed completely. Two battalions of the regiment crossed the river 
and made rapid progress up the slopes of Pranckh Hill and Brandl Hill, 
but, as soon as the artillery preparation lifted, the Russians began to fire 
from positions which had been bypassed in the hasty advance. Two 
companies moving up in column formation were caught in fire from both 
sides. By early afternoon their situation was desperate, and the regi- 
mental commander asked permission to pull his troops back behind the 
river as the only means of avoiding complete destruction of his regiment, 
which had already suffered 60 percent losses in one battalion. Late in 
the day the regiment withdrew to the left bank of the Litsa. How good a 
chance had been lost became clear after it was learned that a large 
number of Russian troops had been bivouacked in the open behind the 
two hills. 

The danger of a too rapid advance by inexperienced troops was 
demonstrated for a second time that day in the 2d Mountain Division 
sector. Two battalions of the 9th SS-Regiment staged a quick sweep 
which carried them over and beyond Hill 173.7, but later, when bypassed 
Russians opened fire in the rear and those in front counterattacked with 
mortar and artillery support, the SS-men broke and ran. One battalion 
commander left the field, and the other recovered control of his troops 
only after the 2d Mountain Division had committed mountain troops 
to regain the lost ground. 35 

On the second day, after the 2d Mountain Division had managed 
to push about three miles to the south, the Russians tied it down in 
heavy counterattacks. With one regiment in the assault and one in re- 
serve and holding the flanks, the 3d Mountain Division advanced to 
within 300 yards of the Russian Road-New Road fork but there ran into 
prepared positions, held by approximately a regiment, and had to halt 
while it brought up artillery and supplies. On the 10th, while Russian 
counterattacks tied down both divisions, the 3d Mountain Division esti- 
mated it would need another 24 hours to bring up supplies. Early the 
next morning Falkenhorst was on the phone wanting to know the reason 

M G.K.N. , K.T.B. 1, 5 Sep 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 4 Sep 41. 

35 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Besuch des Kd. Generals im Raum der 
3. Geb. Div., 10.9.41, and Besprechung Kd. General mit Gen. Mjr. Schlemmer am 
Div. Gef. Stand, 11.9.41, in Krie gstagebuch Russland 1, Anlagenband 2. XIX AK 
15085/4. G.K.N., K.T.B. /, 8 and 10 Sep 41. 


Engineer using jackhammer to break up rocks for the construction of positions on the 

Litsa River front. 

for the delay. Dietl replied that under existing terrain conditions all 
movement and preparation was slow and time consuming. 

On the 12th the 2d Mountain Division resumed its attack southward 
gaining about a mile, most of which it lost again during the night when 
the Russians counterattacked. Still not ready, the 3d Mountain Division 
set its attack for the 13th and then had to postpone it for another twenty- 
four hours when the Russians attacked just as the division was about to 
jump off. Ammunition was running low in both divisions since pack 
animals were the only form of transport to the forward positions, and 
they could carry only about enough to sustain defensive operations. On 
the 14th the 3d Mountain Division threw both of its regiments into the 
attack and at nightfall had possession or the lake narrows; but by then the 
strain of fighting for a week in cold, rainy weather was telling on both 
divisions, and for the next two days they limited themselves to local at- 
tacks and patrol activity. 38 

two freighters off the north coast of Norway on 12 and 13 September, 
the Army of Norway learned on the 13th that all shipping to ports east 
of North Cape had been halted. On the same day the supply officer of 

* C.K.N,, K.T.B. 1, 8-16 Sep 4 L 


the Mountain Corps Norway reported that the ammunition on hand 
amounted to about one and one-half basic loads; there were enough 
rations to last until the end of September; and the motor fuel stored at 
Pechenga was enough for nine days with another nine days' supply at 
Kirkenes. 37 

The Army of Norway, concluding that the arrival of the 6th Mountain 
Division would increase the supply difficulties of the Mountain Corps 
and that the prospects of taking Murmansk were not good in any case, 
proposed to divert the division to the attack on Kandalaksha. Hitler, 
however, in a conference with Falkenhorst at Fuehrer Headquarters on 
the 15th, decided that, although the intention of reaching Murmansk 
in the current year would have to be abandoned, the attack in progress 
should be allowed to run its course while the 6th Mountain Division 
moved up and prepared to relieve the 2d and 3d Mountain Divisions. 
The 6th Mountain Division would hold the line during the winter and 
be in a favorable position to resume the drive on Murmansk in the 
spring. 38 

After Falkenhorst's visit to Fuehrer Headquarters, Hitler and Jodl 
proposed that the Navy employ its battleships to clear the sea lanes 
around the arctic coast of Norway. Raeder refused to do so, arguing 
that the enemy could always muster superior forces against battleships 
used on defensive missions. 39 The Germans assumed that the British 
had found their weak spot and were making a determined effort to 
block the arctic sea route. From the British side the situation was viewed 
quite differently. On 23 July, in response to Russian calls for help, 
the Admiralty had sent out a token force of two aircraft carriers, two 
cruisers, and six destroyers. At the end of the month the aircraft raided 
Kirkenes, Pechenga, and Liinahamari; but, since the losses of planes 
were high and no shipping was encountered at sea, the operation was 
deemed unprofitable and the force returned to Scapa. A second force 
of two cruisers and two destroyers sailed on 19 August to evacuate the 
inhabitants of Spitzbergen and destroy the coal mines. The cruisers of 
that force on their way home encountered and sank the Bremse. At 
the end of August two cruisers and an aircraft carrier escorted an old 
carrier and a freighter loaded with fighter planes to Arkhangelsk. On 
the return trip in early September they sank one freighter off Norway, 
but this result was regarded as hardly justifying the effort expended. A 
greater danger to German shipping in September came from 1 1 sub- 
marines which the Russians had stationed off the north Norwegian 
coast. Nevertheless, in assessing the situation on 14 September Falken- 
horst concluded that, while the submarine threat could be reduced by 

37 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Vortrag des Quartiermeisters beim Chef 
des States ueber die Versorgungslage am 13.9.41, in Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, 
Anlagenband 2. XIX AK 15085/4. 

38 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 13, 15, and 17 Sep 41. 

39 Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, II, pp. 34 and 5 Iff. 


reinforcing the subchaser and escort forces, the British surface vessels 
posed an insuperable problem. The British, intent mainly on the politi- 
cal objective of giving the Russians a visible show of support, had 
accomplished more than they knew. 40 

On 18 September Dietl and the army chief of staff decided that the 
Mountain Corps offensive would have to be halted. It was not pro- 
ducing the desired results; and the prospects looked poor since the 
Russians, in addition to replacing the losses of their two divisions at the 
front, had, according to intelligence reports received during the last 
two or three days, succeeded in creating a third division, the so-called 
"Polyarnyy" Division, composed of sailors, prisoners, and labor camp 
inmates. Above all, the attack would have to be stopped because of the 
supply situation. Buschenhagen again raised the possibility of using 
the 6th Mountain Division in the operation against Kandalaksha, but 
Dietl replied that his corps was completely worn out and would not get 
through the winter unless it were relieved. 41 

In the meantime the Mountain Corps Norway offensive was ap- 
proaching the point of collapse. On 17 September the 3d Mountain 
Division took Pranckh Hill and Brandl Hill in an attack from the south. 
On the same day, a new Russian regiment was reported approaching 
the southern flank of the division. After fighting off heavy Russian 
counterattacks on the 18th, the Commanding General, 3d Mountain 
Division, on the following morning informed corps headquarters that 
the Russians had brought up reinforcements: two regiments of the 
"Polyarnyy" Division had been identified on the division front. The 
Russians were attacking continuously, and losses were mounting hourly. 
The long front, extending in a salient from the Litsa to the lake narrows 
and back to the Litsa again in the vicinity of Pranckh and Brandl Hills, 
could only be thinly held. In fact, the division commander could not 
guarantee that it could be held at all. To avoid complete destruction 
of his division, he requested permission to withdraw to the west bank 
of the river. Although the situation was perhaps not as serious as he 
thought, since the regiments of the "Polyarnyy" Division had no more 
than a total strength of 1,000 men each, that was not known at the 
time; and Dietl at noon reluctantly agreed to let the division withdraw. 42 

By the morning of the 24th the 3d Mountain Division held only 
Pranckh Hill and Brandl Hill east of the river, and those were given up 
two days later. On the 2 1st the Army of Norway canceled the offensive, 
with the exception that the 2d Mountain Division operations were to 
continue as far as was necessary to acquire good defensive positions for 

40 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 64/41, Beurteilung der Lage am 
14.9.41, in Silberfuchs, Br. Ill, 12.6.41-10.1.42. AOK 20 20844/6. Roskill, op. 
cit., pp. 488-90 and 493. 

41 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Abt. Ic, Az. D 11, Nr. 1438/41, Feindlage 
vom 18.9.-2.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Ic, Anlagen zum K.T.B. 1. AOK 20 
25353/1. G.K.N. , K.T.B. 1, 18 Sep 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B. , 18 Sep 41. 

42 G.K.N., K.T.B. 1, 17-19 Sep 41. 


the winter. Two days later a Fuehrer Directive confirmed the army 
order. In the directive Hitler raised the question whether it might still 
be possible to occupy the western half of the Rybatchiy Peninsula before 
winter. Both army and corps answered that, while such an undertaking 
might remove the danger of Russian artillery fire in the entrance to the 
harbor at Pechenga, it would also lengthen the front and should not 
be attempted. Thereafter the Mountain Corps Norway settled down 
to constructing winter positions. In mid-October the 6th Mountain 
Division moved up to take over the line while the 2d Mountain Division 
withdrew to the vicinity of Pechenga and the 3d Mountain Division, 
which had been in the arctic since April 1940, moved into southern Fin- 
land on the first stage of its return to Germany. 

The decision to transfer the 3d Mountain Division out of Finland was 
made without reference to the demands of the tactical situation and was 
completely determined by political considerations. In the general de- 
cline of morale which followed the setbacks suffered during the summer 
campaign the division was particularly affected. One of the then cur- 
rent rumors had it that the 3d Mountain Division was being kept in the 
arctic as part of a plot to exterminate the Austrians. ( Most of the divi- 
sion personnel was Austrian.) Finally, one of the soldiers who was a 
Nazi Party member complained to the party authorities; and, since there 
were at the same time signs of unrest in the Austrian provinces, the matter 
was taken through party channels to Hitler, who ordered the division 
transferred. 43 


In a two and one-half months' campaign, at a cost of 10,290 casual- 
ties, the Mountain Corps Norway had advanced about 15 miles. With 
respect to the attainment of its objective, Murmansk, it was not ap- 
preciably better off at the end of the campaign than it had been at the 
beginning. Operation Platinfuchs had misfired. 

Platinfuchs could be said to have run its course by 17 July when 
Dietl reported that with the forces at its disposal the Mountain Corps 
Norway could no longer execute its mission. The failure of the opera- 
tion to a certain extent resulted logically from the terms under which it 
was conceived. Because of Hitler's insistence on maintaining the de- 
fenses of Norway at full strength, the force for Platinfuchs had been 
determined by what could be spared in Norway and not by the require- 
ments of the operation. For that reason expectations concerning the 
outcome of Platinfuchs had remained vague. The Army of Norway 
set Polyarnyy as a definite objective and left the occupation of Murmansk 

43 General der Infanterie a.D. Erich Buschenhagen, Comments on Part II of 
The German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945, May 1957. G.K.N. , 
K.T.B. 1, 24-26 and 29 Sep 41; 13 and 25 Oct 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 
23, 24, and 29 Sep 41; 18 Nov 41. 


for a later decision, which corresponded approximately to Hitler's in- 
structions that Murmansk was to be hemmed in and occupied in the 
further course of operations if sufficient forces were available. The 
OKW directive of 7 April was completely indefinite, stating only that 
it remained to be seen whether enough strength could be mustered for a 
thrust to Polyarnyy after security had been provided for northern Nor- 
way and Pechenga. On 15 May, after Dietl had reported that expert 
opinion in the Scandinavian countries considered the terrain between 
Pechenga and Murmansk completely unsuitable for military operations 
in summer, Jodl had replied that all the difficulties were known to the 
OKW, that only the occupation of Pechenga was desired as a certainty, 
and that anything beyond that would be considered a gift. 44 

Nevertheless, it had been assumed that the occupation of Murmansk 
would be a likely outcome of Platinfuchs and that, in any event, the 
Mountain Corps Norway would be master of the situation militarily. 
No one anticipated that the corps would be fought to a standstill before it 
had achieved a position which could be considered even remotely promis- 
ing. This error resulted from a false appraisal of the enemy and the 
terrain. Contrary to expectations, the Russians fought with skill and 
determination, proving themselves to be masters in the construction of 
defensive positions and nerveless in the tenacity with which they held 
their ground. Moreover, not even Dietl, despite his warning to Jodl, 
was fully aware of the extent to which the terrain would influence opera- 
tions by braking the momentum of even limited attacks and by affording 
an endless succession of excellent defensive positions. Added to this 
was faulty knowledge of the local geography. One road which had 
been counted on for use was nonexistent, and the other was hardly more 
than a path west of the Litsa, a state of affairs made doubly serious by the 
fact that the Russians had a sea route and a reasonably good road from 
Kola Bay to the Litsa. 

The second and final phase of the Mountain Corps Norway operations 
was primarily an attempt to revive Platinfuchs by building the strength 
of the corps up to a level commensurate with the requirements of its 
mission, which Hitler then for the first time definitely made the capture 
of Murmansk. It failed when the closing of the sea route around 
northern Norway delayed the arrival of the 6th Mountain Division and 
brought the Mountain Corps to the verge of paralysis. The two roads, 
Reichsstrasse 50 from Narvik (400 miles) and the Arctic Ocean High- 
way from Rovaniemi (300 miles), were both of very limited capacity. 
The Russians, on the other hand, had the Murmansk Railroad which 
they were able to use to bring up replacements and to begin creating a 

44 Gen. Kdo. Gebirgskorps Norwegen, la, Sonderanlage zum Taetigkeitsbericht 
April, Mai, Juni 1941, in Gebirgskorps Norwegen, Kriegstagebuch Russland 1, 
Anlagenband 30, XIX AK 15085/33. 


new division. 45 The collapse of the Mountain Corps supply line, how- 
ever, did not take place before the corps, employing two fresh — if not 
first-rate — regiments, had been stopped dead in its tracks for a third 
time by the Russian line on the Litsa. Died himself concluded that 
the Russians, drawing on their seemingly inexhaustible manpower re- 
serves and exploiting the highly favorable terrain for a defense in depth, 
would have prevented his breaking through to Murmansk even with the 
6th Mountain Division. 46 

45 In September 1941 Hitler ordered his construction chief, Dr. Fritz Todt, to build 
a narrow gauge railroad from Rovaniemi to Pechenga using Russian prisoners of war 
as labor. The project was first postponed because of the impossibility of laying a 
roadbed over arctic ground in winter and was then dropped when it was learned that 
the railroad would have to be built all the way from the Gulf of Bothnia because the 
Finnish line below Rovaniemi did not have the capacity to sustain a new line in the 
north. Instead, the Germans began building a road from the Porsanger Fiord in 
Norway to Ivalo on the Arctic Ocean Highway. It was to play an important part 
in the 1944 withdrawal from Finland. 

46 Letter Dietl to Jodl 23 Sep 41 in Dietl, op. cit., pp. 23 Iff. 


Chapter 9 

POLARFUCHS (Operations of XXXVI Corps and Finnish III Corps) 

Thirty miles above the Arctic Circle, in the point of a flattened 
spearhead formed by the Finnish-Soviet border of 1940, lay Salla, 
flanked on the north by the Kuola River, which joins the westward 
flowing Salla River at the western edge of the settlement, and on the 
south by the 2,000-foot-high Salla Mountain. The bare slopes of 
the mountain afforded a clear field of observation across the tangled 
evergreen forest stretching up to and beyond the border three miles to 
the west. By June 1941 the Soviet Union had completed a railroad 
from Kandalaksha to the border; the Finnish connecting line to 
Kemiyarvi was not finished but was being pushed rapidly as the Finns 
gained enthusiasm from the knowledge that the railroad could now be 
put to a use quite different from that which the Russians had intended. 
In their 15 months' occupation the Russians had fortified the border and 
the flank approaches to Salla, making it a major defensive strongpoint 
held by an infantry division (the 122d Rifle Division) and, according 
to German estimates, 50 tanks. 

In the last week of June the Army of Norway main force, the XXXVI 
Corps, assembled its two German divisions opposite Salla. The Finnish 
6th Division was already in position north of Kuusamo. The corps 
planned to take Salla in a double envelopment and so open the way for 
a quick thrust to the Murmansk Railroad at Kandalaksha. It placed 
the weight of its initial attack on the north flank, where the 169th 
Infantry Division was to commit three combat teams of approximately 
regimental strength. The first would advance along the Tennio River 
eight miles north of Salla where it would screen the corps' left flank 
and become the northern arm of a second pincers directed against 
Kayrala. The second was positioned five miles north of Salla for a 
thrust southeastward to the Salla-Korya road and then south along 
the road to complete the encirclement. The third, stationed on and 
north of the Savukoski-Salla road, would mount a frontal attack against 
the border fortifications. On the south flank of the corps, the two regi- 
ments of the SS-Division "Nord' would cross the border along and 


south of the Rovaniemi— Kandalaksha road and advance up to and 
behind Salla from the south. 1 The Finnish 6th Division, crossing the 
border 45 miles south of Salla and advancing northwestward, was to 
send a detachment to attack Kayrala from the south while its main 
force thrust deep in the Russian rear toward Allakurtti. 2 

The Finnish III Corps, on the Army of Norway right flank, in June 
1941 held a 60-mile front between Kuusamo and Suomussalmi. In the 
last two weeks of the month the corps reorganized its one division (the 
3d) into two groups, Group F and Group J, each with one rifle regiment 
and a small number of attached troops including border guards. The 
corps held one regiment in reserve and had at its disposal one German 
tank company and a battalion detached from the Finnish 6th Division., 
Group J assembled south of Kuusamo for an attack in the direction of 
Kesten'ga while Group F, its first objective Ukhta, drew its forces to- 
gether east of Suomussalmi. The ultimate objectives of III Corps were 
Loukhi and Kem on the Murmansk Railroad. 3 

As the XXXVI Corps and the III Corps prepared for the attack, one 
great doubt remained: it concerned the military capability, if any, of 
the SS-Division. Its officers of all ranks had no more military training 
than they had been able to absorb during a short course of lectures and 
demonstrations given them in the previous winter. The division had 
fired its artillery only once, and proficiency in the use of small arms was 
so low that provision had to be made for target practice while the division 
moved up to the front. The march from northern Norway had been 
so poorly executed and revealed such a profound ignorance of military 
procedures that it resulted in the relief of the commanding general and 
his operations officer. The new commanding general, after looking 
over his troops, reported on 23 June that he could not assume respon- 
sibility for committing them in battle. The Comrjianding General, 
XXXVI Corps, Feige, was reluctant to use the SS-Division against Salla 
and did so only at the insistence of the Army of Norway which was more 
optimistic than the corps in its assessment of the SS-Division and held 
a lower opinion of the enemy's defensive capabilities. 4 


Two hours after midnight on 1 July the Finnish 6th Division crossed 
the border near the northwestern tip of Pana Lake. At 1600, after a 

lr The SS-Kampfgruppe was renamed SS-Division "Nord" in June 1941. 

a Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., K.T.B., Nr. 3 (9.5.-2.9.1941) Textband, Einsatz in 
Nordfinnland (hereafter cited as XXXVI A.K., K.T.B., 3). 16 Jun 41. XXXVI AK 
22102/3. Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., la, Nr. 654/41, Korpsbefehl fuer den Angriff am 
Y-Tag, 27.6.41, in XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, Anlagenband A 1. XXXVI AK 22102/4. 

3 HI AKE, No. 10/III/3b, Dem Chef des Gen. Stabes, Abloesungsstab A.O.K. 
Norwegen, 18.6.41, in Anlagen zum K.T.B. des III finn. A.K., 10.6.-31.12.41. Ill 
finn AK 19654/2. Ill Armeekorps Stab, Nr. 2/III/2b/L5616, Entfaltungsbefehl 
des AK, 17.6.41., in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band I. AOK 20 
19070/2. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 16 and 25 Jun 41. 

1 XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 9 May-29 Jun 41 {passim). 


ten-minute preparatory bombardment by a dive-bomber group, the SS- 
Division and the 169th Division began their advance. The timing of 
the attacks demonstrated one of the peculiarities of arctic warfare : with 
24 hours of summer daylight the distinction between night and day did 
not exist, and the two German divisions were able to open their attack 
late in the afternoon, thus gaining the advantage of having the sun at 
their backs. The day was hot, with the temperature in the high 80's, 
which brought out swarms of mosquitos. After the air bombardment 
Salla and Salla Mountain disappeared in clouds of smoke, and the ar- 
tillery fire soon started numerous forest fires which reduced visibility 
and in places threatened to block the advance of the troops. 

Before midnight the XXXVI Corps had a clear indication of the kind 
of opposition it was going to meet. The right-flank regiment of the 
169th Division, advancing on the border fortifications on either side of 
the Savukoski— Salla road with two battalions, was stopped about 500 
yards east of the border and was then thrown back by a sharp counter- 
attack which touched off a brief panic in the rear echelon of the German 
regiment. That brought to a quick end the planned frontal attack on 
Salla. The regiment in the center, on the other hand, had made good 
progress and at the end of the day was drawing up to the Salla-Korya 
road. Along the Tennio River the left-flank regiment had gained about 
two miles. / 

Shortly after midnight the question concerning the effectiveness of 
SS-Division "Nord" was answered: SS stragglers came streaming past 
corps headquarters on the Rovaniemi-Salla road, and the corps artil- 
lery commander urgently requested the SS-Division to clear its men out 
of his artillery positions. On the division front confusion reigned; the 
operations officer could give the positions of only two of his six battalions. 
Later in the morning, after the division commander had declared his 
troops incapable of continuing the attack, Feige ordered the division 
to assemble on the border and take up defensive positions. Meeting the 
SS general at corps headquarters several hours later, Falkenhorst with 
heavy irony "congratulated him on the behavior of his troops." 5 

The second day also brought a crisis in the 169th Division area. The 
Russians, seeing an encirclement developing, counterattacked against 
the center regiment and, with tank and air support, forced it back off 
the road. In the morning the division sent up a battalion of infantry 
and a company of tanks (one company was already committed) and 
later in the day drew on the divisional reserve for another battalion of 
infantry. By mid-afternoon the division had concluded that it could 
not take Salla with one regiment and decided to abandon the projected 
advance of the left-flank regiment to Kayrala, ordering it instead to 
turn south along the Salla-Korya road. 

5 XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 2 Jul 41. 


Mountain troop.'! picking their way through the forest east of Salla. Note edehveu 
badge of the mountain troops on cap of man in foreground. 

On the following day f while the left regiment moved south, the center 
regiment regained the road and pushed down to the Kuola River. The 
division, meanwhile, had decided also to commit its third regiment in 
the river crossing and assault on Salla, The wearing effect of unending 
daylight was beginning to tell on the troops as they worked their way 
into position north of the river during the next two days in preparation 
for a crossing on 6 July. 

Early on the morning of the 4th the XXXVI Corps headquarters 
staff witnessed an astonishing scene as the motorized SS-Division came 
streaming down the road toward Rovaniemi swearing Russian tanks 
were at its heels. For several hours the corps staff, including the chief 
of staff and Feige himself, were out on the road getting the SS-men 
headed back toward the front. Some of the vehicles were stopped and 
turned back at the Army of Norway advanced headquarters halfway 
down the road toward Kemiyarvi, and a few went the full 50 miles to 
Kemiyarvi where an SS-man urged the local commandant to blow up 
the bridge across the Kemi River to hold up the Russian tanks which 
he claimed were in hot pursuit. It was later learned that the division, 
hearing tanks start up behind the Russian positions had called for 
artillery fire, which led the Russians to retaliate in kind. The com- 
manding general, convinced that the Russians were attacking and hav- 
ing no confidence in his troops, had ordered a withdrawal which rapidly 
became a full-scale panic. 



With the SS-Division proved completely unreliable, it was not only 
impossible to complete the encirclement of Salla but necessary as well 
to shore up the stationary front on the border. Falkenhorst first offered 
the entire army reserve, a Finnish battalion, an SS battalion, and a 
motorized machine gun battalion, but then changed his mind and sent 
only the motorized machine gun battalion. Feige asked for a regiment 
of the 163d Infantry Division, which was completing its move through 
Sweden, and learned for the first time that the division had been given 
to Mannerheim and it would take high-level negotiations to get a regi- 
ment back from the Finns. The next day, sooner than had been ex- 
pected, Hitler approved the transfer of the regiment. The OKH, 
which had counted on the 163d Division to give weight to Manner- 
heim's forthcoming offensive east of Lake Ladoga, was in no wise 
pleased by the decision, and Haider commented on it acidly as clearly 
demonstrating the questionable nature of the whole Murmansk 
operation. 6 

The collapse of the SS-Division "Nord" also brought into question the 
further operations of the Finnish 6th Division. In order to prevent the 
division from becoming exposed to a Russian attack in isolation and to 
assist the 169th Division, which henceforth would have to carry the 
burden of the attack alone, Feige ordered it to abandon its thrust toward 
Allakurtti and turn due north toward Kayrala. On 6 July Feige thought 
it would be best to draw the SS-Division out of the line altogether and 
set it up in a training camp behind the front, but that was no longer 
possible since Hitler had personally ordered the division to stay at the 
front. 7 

By early morning on 6 July the 169th Division was ready to launch 
its final assault across the Kuola River and into Salla from the east. It 
had a regimental combat team of five battalions and two tank companies 
along the river west of the Salla-Korya road, another with two battalions 
east of the road, and two battalions at the disposal of the division. The 
division hoped, by swinging south behind Salla to the eastern slope of 
Salla Mountain, to be able still to trap the Russian force. With dive 
bomber and artillery support, the attack made progress against stubborn 
resistance, and at noon the right-flank regiment was within a half mile 
of Salla after knocking out 16 Russian tanks in one hour and losing most 
of its own. The division, having committed all of its reserves, saw no 
chance of drawing a line south to Salla Mountain. Five hours later 
the right regiment entered Salla and was promptly thrown into a with- 
drawal which stopped only after the commanding general and his two 
regimental commanders intervened in person. 

6 Haider Diary, Vol. VI, p. 191. 

7 The behavior of SS-Division "Nord" was a major annoyance to Hitler and 
probably something of a blow to Himmler, who touted his Waffen-SS divisions with 
their imposing names, "Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler," "Das Reich," "Totenkopf," 
"Wiking," and "Nord," as the very cream of the German fighting forces. 


During the night the German situation remained precarious, and on 
the following morning the division became concerned over reports of a 
Russian column with tanks moving west from Kayrala. Resuming the 
attack at 1500 on the 7th, the division made little progress until shortly 
before midnight when it became clear that the Russians were withdrawing 
southeastward toward Lampela. Moving into Salla during the morning 
against rear-guard resistance the division captured the artillery equip- 
ment of a division and brought its total of tanks destroyed or captured 
to 50, but the mass of the 122d Rifle Division had slipped away through 
the open southern arc of the encirclement. The XXXVI Corps was 
inclined to look on the taking of Salla as a first-rate achievement under 
the circumstances. Falkenhorst was not so pleased and on viewing the 
scene of action commented that he could have taken the positions facing 
the SS-Division with recruits. 8 

Leaving the SS-Division to pursue the Russians in the direction of 
Lampela, the 169th Division had to turn east immediately in order, if 
possible, to prevent the enemy from making another stand at the nar- 
rows of Kayrala and Mikkola where the Kuola Lake-Apa Lake chain 
lay like a ten-mile-long moat across the road. At the same time the 
XXXVI Corps learned that it would have to give up the motorized 
machine gun battalion, its only fresh motorized unit, which was being 
transferred to the Mountain Corps Norway . The Finnish 6th Division 
was already pushing northward along the east shore of Apa Lake, but 
it had been forced to leave all its artillery behind on the long march 
through the wilderness. Early on the morning of the 9th a battalion of 
the 1 69th Division advanced to within a mile and a half of Kayrala where 
it was stopped by artillery fire. That night a regiment of the Finnish 
division cut the road and railroad three miles east of the lakes but had 
to fall back to the south under Russian pressure from both sides. 

Stalemate at Kayrala 

After a frontal attack by one battalion at Kayrala and a second at 
Mikkola failed on 10 July it became clear that the Russians were ready to 
make another stand. The 104th Rifle Division, which had not yet been 
in action, was holding the narrows, and the 122d Rifle Division was re- 
grouping behind the lake. The XLII Corps headquarters, if not already 
in command, would appear within the next few days; and the 1st 
Tank Division, which had had units at Salla, was located at or west 
of Allakurtti. 8 

8 169. I.D., Fuehrungs-Abt, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 2, Teil 1, 1.6-9.9.1941 (hereafter 
referred to as 169.1.D., K.T.B. 2, Teil 1), 1-8 Jul 41. 169 ID 20291/2. A.O.K. 
Norwegen, K.T.B., 1-8 Jul 1941. XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 1-8 Jul 41. 

9 The 1st Tank Division was composed of two tank regiments, a motorized infantry 
regiment, and — probably — a motorized howitzer regiment. On about 1 August 
the tank regiments were withdrawn to the front before Leningrad. A.O.K. Nor- 
wegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Ic, Az D 11, Nr. 791/41, Feindlage 3.8-11.8.41, in A.O.K. 
Norwegen, Ic Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 25353/1. 


Anticipating stronger resistance than at Salla and having only two 
effective divisions, the XXXVI Corps planned to execute a shallow 
double envelopment with the limited objective of opening the lake nar- 
rows. Assigning the main effort to the 169th Division, it intended to 
send one regiment by way of the Salla-Korya road to a point north and 
east of the lake chain for a thrust into the enemy's right flank, two bat- 
talions directly around the northern tip of Kuola Lake, and single bat- 
talions in feigned frontal attacks on Kayrala and Mikkola. The Finnish 
6th Division, still without artillery support except for that which could 
be given from the 169th Division and corps positions on the road, would 
come up from the south, east of Apa Lake. 

A delaying factor in the operation was the problem of bringing the 
regiment on the northern flank into position. Using the Salla-Korya 
road, it could get behind the Russian lines but at a point eight miles 
north of the tip of Kuola Lake. It would then have to work its way 
south across wooded, hilly, almost mountainous country to the Russian 
flank defenses established at right angles to the lake chain, take those 
positions, and jump off southward behind the lake. The regiment 
began to meet resistance as soon as it turned south off the road. 

In the first of what was during the next two weeks to grow into a 
series of sharp, sometimes acrimonious, differences of opinion with the 
XXXVI Corps, the Army of Norway asked for a deeper envelopment 
extending east of the Nurmi River to make certain that the Russian 
divisions were trapped and destroyed. That task the XXXVI Corps 
declared to be beyond its strength. Instead, it revised its plan for oper- 
ations on the northern wing, sending up an additional regiment plus 
two reserve battalions from the newly arrived 324th Infantry Regiment 
(163d Infantry Division) and extending its flank to the west bank of the 
Nurmi River. 

The first task was to cut a road through forests, bogs, and fields of 
boulders for each of the left-flank regiments. On 16 July Falkenhorst 
appeared at the front testily wanting to know what was taking so long. 
In the course of his explanation the corps operations officer broached 
one matter which was troubling the corps more and more. The German 
soldier, as he put it, had lost his instinct for forest fighting; he felt in- 
secure and attempted to crash his way through places where he should 
have proceeded with stealth. In this respect the Russians and Finns 
were far superior. Falkenhorst replied with heavy sarcasm that he 
would then have to report to Hitler that "XXXVI Corps cannot attack 
because it is 'degenerate.' " 10 His impatience was not unjustified, how- 
ever. In the past three or four days twelve Soviet transports had landed 
reinforcements at Kandalaksha that were moving up to Allakurtti and 
Kayrala (probably also to Murmansk) by road and railroad. German 
planes had succeeded in destroying only one convoy returning empty 

10 XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 16 Jul 41. 


Half-tracked motorcycles pulling antitank guns on a corduroy road. 

from AllakurttL While the new arrivals were not a full division as was 
at first feared^ they were enough to restore the 122d Rifle Division to 
full strength. 

The effect of the reinforcements was felt immediately as the enemy 
became more active, thrusting against the regiments on the north flank 
and threatening the Finnish 6th Division east of Apa Lake. While the 
Army of Norway urged an immediate attack as the only solution, the 
XXXVI Corps became more pessimistic. It knew the Russians to be 
superior in numbers and was particularly worried about the 1st Tank 
Division, which was reported to have some heavy tanks. On 21 July 
the commander of the 169th Division declared that his left-flank regi- 
ments could accomplish only the first two phases of their assignment, 
the march to the tip of Kuola Lake and the taking of the Russian flank 
defense line. The third, a thrust to the Kayrala-Allakurtti road, would 
be beyond their strength. 

On 23 July Falkenhorst went out to look over the 169th Division 
left flank for himself. In a one-sided conversation he gave the com- 
manding general the following estimates: of the enemy — two or three 
regiments, badly beaten at Salla, which were gaining time to recover by 
the delays of the division ; of the terrain — a few hills over which every- 
thing necessary could be carried ; of the roads- — boulevards compared to 
those with which Dietl had to contend ; of the division staff — living too 
close to the troops. 11 Later in the day he dashed off a summary of his 
impressions to Feige : troops supposedly building a road were lying about 

" 169. I.D., Kommandeur, Besuch des Herrn OberbejehlshaheT, 23.7.1941, in 
XXXV I A.M., Anlagenband A 2. XXXVI AK 22102/5. 


in hammocks sunning themselves; 12 there was talk of "defense" and 
"stationary warfare," ideas which if they did not vanish immediately 
would force him to ask the OKW for some more energetic commanders; 
the time for long memorandums and estimates of the situation had 
passed. Feige was "directed to report the day and hour on which the 
corps will begin the attack with its divisions." 13 Under the influence 
of this stinging communication Feige immediately set the attack for 2300 
on 26 July. 

After a last-minute appeal to Hitler secured dive bomber support, 
which until then had all been assigned to the inactive Mountain Corps 
Norway sector, the attack began on time. 14 Of the two regiments on 
the 169th Division's left flank one ran into a Soviet attack launched 
simultaneously and could not get out of its starting positions; the other 
gained about a mile before it was pinned down. The Finnish 6th 
Division, which was to tie down the enemy until the 1 69th Division had 
broken through the northern flank defenses, gained some ground and 
then was thrown back. Shortly before noon on the 27th Feige informed 
the Army of Norway that by continuing the attack he could soften up 
the enemy but not achieve a decisive success. Buschenhagen replied 
that the attack had to continue because Hitler had ordered that the 
Murmansk Railroad must be reached in at least one place. In the after- 
noon the two reserve battalions were thrown in on the northern flank 
without result. 

Before noon on the following day the attack had bogged down com- 
pletely, and the Army of Norway ordered the XXXVI Corps to tie down 
the enemy with limited attacks in order to prevent him from shifting 
troops to the Mountain Corps Norway or Finnish III Corps sectors. To 
the OKW, army reported that the attack was stalled and could not be re- 
sumed without an additional division. 15 On the 30th Hitler confirmed 
the action already taken by the Army of Norway and ordered the XXXVI 

12 Unknowingly he had come upon another of the peculiarities of arctic warfare : 
because heat (in July 1941 the temperature rose above 85° Fahrenheit on 12 days, 
twice reaching 97°) and mosquitos made work virtually impossible during the 
normal daytime hours, the division had been doing its road building during the 
nights, which were light but cool and free of mosquitos. 

13 Three days later the army chief of staff explained that impatient expressions 
should not be taken personally; army was under pressure from Fuehrer Headquarters. 
O.B., A. O.K., Norwegen, an den Kom. Gen. des Hoeh. Kdos. XXXVI, 23.7.41 and 
Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., la., Ferngespraech Kom. Gen. XXXVI A.K. mit Chef des 
Stabes A.O.K. am 27.4.41, in XXXVI A.K., Anlagenband A 2. XXXVI A.K. 

14 In order to preserve the striking power of its limited forces the Fifth Air Force 
had been ordered to maintain a clear-cut main effort at all times. Since the air 
units were not subordinate to the Army of Norway and often operated according to 
their own tactical conceptions, co-ordination of air and ground operations was diffi- 
cult, particularly in the light of the fact that the Commanding General, Fifth Air 
Force, kept his headquarters in Oslo. General der Infanterie a.D. Erich Buschen- 
hagen, Comments on Part II of The German Northern Theater of Operations, 
1940-1945, May 1957. 

15 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 46/41, Lagebeurteilung vom 
28.7.1941, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band I. AOK 20 19070/2. 


Corps attack closed down. In one month the XXXVI Corps had ad- 
vanced slightly more than 13 miles at a cost of 5,500 casualities. The 
169th Infantry Division, with 3,296 casualities, was reduced to an effec- 
tive strength of 9,782 officers and men. 16 

Finnish 111 Corps Operations in July and August 1941 

The Fuehrer Directive of 31 July ordered the Army of Norway to 
shift its main effort to the Finnish III Corps zone and the drive to 
Loukhi, leaving only as many troops with the XXXVI Corps as were 
necessary for defense and to create an impression of further offensive 
intentions. 17 The directive, in the main, confirmed measures already 
taken by the Army of Norway. Since mid- July Falkenhorst had be- 
lieved that the Murmansk Railroad could be reached most quickly at 
Loukhi, and on the 19th he had committed a regiment and an artillery 
battalion of the SS-Division "Nord" to the III Corps attack in that di- 
rection. On the 29th and 30th he sent an additional infantry battalion 
and an artillery battalion of the SS-Division to the III Corps. 

Concluding the Fuehrer Directive, Hitler added that, were the drive 
toward Loukhi also to lose its momentum, all German troops were to 
be withdrawn and sent to the Army of Karelia. In fact, he wanted the 
Army of Norway to prepare immediately to commit forces in support 
of the Army of Karelia. It appeared that Hitler was considering 
stopping for good the German operations in the XXXVI Corps and 
Finnish III Corps zones, but he did not revert to this aspect of the 
directive again. His reference to immediate support for the Army of 
Karelia was later clarified and limited to the 324th Infantry Regiment, 
which the OKH wanted returned to the 163d Infantry Division and 
which the Army of Norway continued to insist it could not spare. 18 

On 1 July, following the Army of Norway plan, the III Corps had 
sent Group J (one regiment) across the border east of Kuusamo in the 
direction Kesten'ga— Loukhi and Group F east of Suomussalmi in the 
direction Ukhta— Kem. In accordance with the Army of Norway in- 
structions the corps placed its main effort in the Group F sector, com- 
mitting its reserve regiment there for a converging attack by two regi- 
ments on Voynitsa (Vuoninnen) 12 miles east of the border. The 
corps sector was held by the Russian 54th Rifle Division, which at first 
divided its forces about equally to defend Kesten'ga and Ukhta. 19 

16 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 10-31 Jul 41. XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 10 Jul-1 
Aug 41. 169 I.D., K.T.B. 2, Teil 1, 10-13 Jul 41i 

" OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 441298/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland, 31.7.41 and OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (7 Op.). Nr. 1325/41 an A.O.K. Nor- 
wegen, Bef. St. Finnland, 2.8.41 , in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band I. 
AOK 20 19070/2. 

18 Ibid. 

19 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 148/41, Operationsanweisung fuer das V. finnische 
Armee-Korps, 10.6.41; III AKE, No. 10/III/3b, dem Chef des Gen. Stabes Ablo- 
esungsstab A.O.K. Norwegen, 18.6.41; and Gen. Kdo. Ill A.K., Nr. 501 /III /3b, 
Befehl des A.K., 23.7.41, in Anlagen zum K.T.B. des III. finn. A.K. 10.6.-31.12.41. 
Finnland 19654/2. 


The III Corps offensive made good initial progress against weak 
resistance. By 5 July Group J was in Makarely, 17 miles east of the 
border, and the right-flank regiment of Group F had marched 28 miles 
to Pon'ga Guba. On the 10th, as Group J drew up to Tungozero, the 
two regiments of Group F in the south encountered a center of resist- 
ance at Voynitsa which they encircled and wiped out during the next 
nine days. By the 19th, Group J was on the Sof'yanga, an eight-mile 
long channel connecting Pya Lake and Top Lake. It was a major 
obstacle, strongly defended, which could not be taken without careful 
preparation ; but the Group J commander was optimistic. Once in the 
narrows between the lakes he could advance to Kesten'ga without 
worrying about his flanks, and from Kesten'ga to Loukhi there were 
42 miles of improved road. 

Visiting Group J on 18 July, Buschenhagen, the army chief of staff, 
was astonished at the rapidity of its advance (some 40 miles) and 
noted with surprise that the Finns had built a road all the way. Ex- 
perienced in forest warfare, the Finns had several times broken the 
enemy's defensive efforts by rapid thrusts at his flanks and rear, which 
often could be developed into mottis — small tight encirclements, some- 
times several at the same time. These were particularly effective in 
the forest where the more sweeping encirclements favored by the Ger- 
mans were difficult to establish and nearly impossible to draw sufficiently 
tight to prevent the enemy's escape. On the basis of Buschenhagen's 
observations the Army of Norway decided to send the SS regiment and 
artillery battalion already mentioned to Group J and to shift the III 
Corps main effort from Group F to Group J. In compliance Kenraali- 
majuri H. Siilasvuo, Commanding General, III Corps, began drawing 
two battalions out of the Group F sector for transfer to the north flank. 20 

While Group J prepared to cross the Sof'yanga, Group F resumed its 
advance to Ukhta. After cleaning out several small pockets east of 
Voynitsa, which yielded prisoners and enemy equipment, it reached 
Korpiyarvi on the 23d. From there, during the next five days, it ad- 
vanced in two columns, one along the north shore of Sredneye Kuyto 
Lake and the other along the Korpiyarvi-Ukhta road, to the Yeldanka 
Lake line, 12 miles northwest of Ukhta. 

On 30 July Group J began its assault across the Sof'yanga and sent 
one battalion by boat over the western tip of Top Lake to land in the 
Russian rear. On the same day the Army of Norway decided to 
commit additional SS troops in the Group J zone to protect its open 
northern flank between the lakes and the border. 21 In three days' 

w A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 1-19 Jul 41. 

21 At this time the first appearances of the Soviet partisans were arousing growing 
concern throughout the Army of Norway area. The partisans, in reality small, roving 
detachments of Russian troops (50-100 men), were being reported from the Moun- 
tain Corps Norway zone southward. There is no record of their having achieved 
any noteworthy successes. 


fighting Group J broke the Russian resistance on the Sof'yanga and on 
the night of 7 August reached Kesten'ga. The Russians were throwing 
in what were believed to be their last reserves, 500 forced laborers and 
another 600 troops drawn from the headquarters guard of the Fourteenth 
Army and a replacement battalion at Murmansk. 22 

By 1 1 August the Finnish regiment of Group J, following the railroad 
embankment of the Kesten'ga spur line, was just south of the narrows 
between Yelovoye Lake and Lebedevo Lake, 20 miles southwest of 
Loukhi. Heavy resistance on the road and between the road and rail- 
road behind the advance regiment forced a halt. On the 14th the 
movement of enemy truck convoys westward from Loukhi confirmed 
the impression which had been gained from frantic Russian radio traffic 
two days earlier that the 88th Rifle Division was being rushed in from 
Arkhangelsk. In the course of the next two days the Russian resistance 
stiffened markedly. 

Meanwhile, Group F in the south, having become stalled at the 
Kis Kis River line on the Korpiyarvi-Ukhta road, had gone over to 
attempting a deep envelopment from the north, which was meeting 
resistance at all points, and from the south around the southern shore 
of Sredneye Kuyto Lake. In the south it reached Enonsuu, directly 
across from Ukhta, on 2 August and sent patrols as far as Lu'salma. 
On the 19th, after a week of probing attacks which registered no sig- 
nificant gains, the Army of Norway ordered the operation halted in 
order to shift more weight to the attack toward Loukhi, and a battalion 
was drawn out for transfer north. 

In the Group J sector the enemy showed signs of weakening; but the 
strength of the SS and Finnish troops was also declining. In the last 
week of August they trapped a Russian regiment south of the railroad 
and behind the advanced Finnish positions but were unable to destroy 
it, and the fight moved northward across the railroad as the SS-men and 
Finns attempted to tighten the ring and starve the Russians out. On 
25 August General Siilasvuo informed the Army of Norway that his 
troops were exhausted and that he did not consider it possible to carry 
out his mission — a quick thrust to Loukhi — with his existing forces. He 
requested a fresh Finnish division, accustomed to forest warfare. 23 

Four days later Falkenhorst and Buschenhagen met with Siilasvuo 
at Kuusamo. The Finnish general reported that Group J was stalled. 
His 6 Finnish and 3 SS battalions faced a total of at least 13 Russian 
battalions, and 2 of the SS battalions together had an effective strength 
of no more than 280 men. There was a danger that the Russians would 
be able to strike southward to Kesten'ga and bring about the collapse 
of the Group J positions. Siilasvuo also considered it an error to have 

12 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Ic Az D 11, Nr. 791/41, Feindlage 3.8.- 
11.8.41, in Ic Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 25353/1. 

23 III A.K., Nr. 1024 a/III, dem O.B. des A.O.K. Norwegen, 25.8.41, in A.O.K 
Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band I. AOK 20 19070/2. 


stopped the attack on Ukhta since there Group F was exposed in highly 
unsatisfactory positions. Falkenhorst decided that the attack on Ukhta 
would be resumed while Group J made every effort to hold in place. 
To assist in overcoming the immediate dangers, Group J would be given 
a motorized machine gun battalion and the remainder of the SS-Division 
infantry (2 battalions) . When the situation of the XXXVI Corps per- 
mitted, army would also send one regiment of the Finnish 6th Division. 
It was expected that on the arrival of that regiment the push toward 
Loukhi could be resumed. 24 

Encirclement at Kayrala-Mikkola 

On 3 August the XXXVI Corps ordered its divisions to tie down the 
enemy opposite them and to create favorable conditions for resumption 
of the advance after reinforcements arrived. That order was imme- 
diately superseded by an army order instructing the XXXVI Corps to 
prepare to resume its offensive with the main effort on the southern 
flank (Finnish 6th Division) and stating that reinforcements could not 
be counted on for the time being. 25 During the succeeding days, the 
XXXVI Corps several times renewed its requests for added forces. 
Feige argued that the Army of Norway main effort logically belonged 
in the XXXVI Corps sector since there alone was the movement of 
supplies by road and railroad assured and since it was necessary to take 
and hold Kandalaksha in order to maintain a German occupation of 
Murmansk. Cutting the railroad at Loukhi, he believed, could have 
no decisive effect because the Russians would still hold the vital Kan- 
dalaksha — Murmansk line and would have contact with Arkhangel'sk 
by way of the White Sea. 26 The Army of Norway, on the other hand, 
despite the fact that it wanted the XXXVI Corps to resume its offensive, 
saw the best chance for immediate results in the attack on Loukhi' and 
the best future prospects in the planned Mountain Corps Norway of- 
fensive. Therefore, the two fresh regiments which Feige wanted — 
and thought he had been promised — were given to the Mountain Corps 
Norway. To a large extent, no doubt, the Army of Norway was in- 
fluenced by the peculiarity of its mission which made the Murmansk 
Railroad less a strategic objective than a matter of prestige, with the 
result that the cutting of the railroad as soon as possible and the early 
occupation of Murmansk became goals worth striving for even at the 
expense of sound tactical procedure. 

Encouraged by the withdrawal of the armored elements of the 1st 
Tank Division, the Army of Norway wanted the XXXVI Corps to 
execute a deep envelopment reaching up to the road and railroad imme- 

M A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 19 Jul-29 Aug 41. 

25 Gen. Kdo. XXXVI, la, Nr. 802/41, Korpsbefehl, 3.8.41 and A.O.K. Norwegen, 
la, Nr. 51.41, A Ttneebefehl) 2.8.4-1 , in XXXVI A..K.., A-ulagenbdnd A. 2 XXXVI 
AK 22102/5. 

26 XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 8 Aug 41. 


diately west of Allakurtti. 27 That, the XXXVI Corps insisted, was 
impossible, both because of the terrain and because of insufficient forces. 
It set, instead, Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain, about halfway be- 
tween Kayrala and Allakurtti, as the easternmost objectives. The 
XXXVI Corps intended "to stake everything on one card" — the thrust 
of the Finnish 6th Division to Nurmi Mountain. The 169th Division 
front would be stripped to an absolute minimum of strength in order 
to gain enough troops to take over the Finnish 6th Division defensive 
positions, provide approximately one German regiment as corps reserve 
(in addition to one Finnish regiment), and form a combat team of two 
battalions plus six companies of mixed SS, engineer, and construction 
troops. The combat team, crossing the Nurmi River behind the left 
wing of the 169th Division, would push southeastward toward Nurmi 
Lake as the right arm of the envelopment. The Finnish 6th Division 
would direct its main force, one regiment with two regiments in reserve, 
toward Nurmi Mountain where it would block the road and railroad. 
As flank proetction one regiment would strike eastward to Vuoriyarvi 
and then north along the road to Allakurtti. 28 

Regrouping for the attack proved to be a task of major proportions. 
A road (completed on 14 August) had to be built from Lampela to the 
southern end of Apa Lake to carry the artillery into the Finnish 6th Divi- 
sion zone. Meanwhile, the 169th Division troops being transferred had 
to be pulled out through Salla into Finland, sent south to the point where 
the Finnish 6th Division had crossed the border, and thence northward 
along the original Finnish 6th Division route, a march of 110 miles to 
cover a straight-line distance of 1 8 miles. Very probably, however, this 
roundabout movement aided in deceiving the enemy, for the Russians 
continued to concentrate their probing attacks and patrol activity on 
the northern flank. 

During the regroupment, relations between Falkenhorst and Feige did 
not improve. At corps headquarters on the 15th, Falkenhorst remarked 
that battalion-for-battalion the sides were equal, a statement that Feige 
interpreted as an attempt to make his earlier insistence on two fresh regi- 
ments appear superfluous, if not frivolous. The Russians, he countered, 
were maintaining a constant flow of replacements while the replacement 
situation of the Germans and Finns was extremely precarious. 29 

Early on 19 August, in heavy rain and fog, the Finnish 6th Division 
jumped off. Its main column, meeting light resistance, reached Lehto- 

27 See footnote 9 above. 

28 Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., la, Nr. 843/41, Korpsbefehl, 12.8.41 and Gen. Kdo. 
XXXVI A.K., la, 858/41, Korpsbefehl fuer den Angriff am X-Tag, 15.8.41, in 
XXXVI A.K., Anlagenband A 2. XXXVI AK 22102/5. 

29 Between 30 June and 15 September the 169th Division received 3,100 replace- 
ments and sustained 5,300 casualties. No statistics are available for the Finnish 
6th Division. 169.1. D., Ia, Nr. 488/41, Ausserordentlicher Zustandsbericht, 17.9.41, 
in XXXVI A.K., K.T.B., 3.9.-17.9.1941. XXXVI AK 23305. XXXVI A.K., 
K.T.B. 3,4-15 Aug 41. 


kangas in the late afternoon ; but the Finnish regiment on the right made 
slow progress against heavy resistance, and the German regiment on the 
left barely got out of its starting positions. The XXXVI Corps expected 
counterattacks, but they did not come. Surprise had been achieved, and 
the Finnish main force was able to reach and cut the road and railroad 
between Nurmi Lake and Nurmi Mountain on the following day. To 
strengthen the main thrust, the XXXVI Corps committed one of its 
reserve regiments and assigned the other to the Finnish 6th Division for 
use when needed. By the 22d the Finns had established five battalions 
in defensive positions across the road to hold the Russians attempting to 
break out eastward. It had become urgently necessary to close the ring 
from the north where the left enveloping force was making slow progress 
east of the Nurmi River; therefore, to lend weight to the advance, the 
169th Division reduced its holding positions once more and sent two 
infantry battalions and an artillery battalion east of the river. 

A Russian radio message intercepted during the night of the 2 2d spoke 
of a "complete encirclement." On the following day the Finnish 6th 
Division committed its last reserve regiment to extend the right arm of 
the encirclement northward ; meanwhile, the Russians were escaping over 
a previously undetected road north of Nurmi Lake, which the northern 
enveloping force did not reach and cut until the 25th. On the 24th the 
Finnish regiment on the right took Vuoriyarvi, and on the following day 
a break in the weather permitted the first bomber and dive bomber at- 
tacks on the retreating Russians. 

On 25 August it was apparent that a clear-cut victory was in the mak- 
ing. The Russians were streaming eastward in disorder past Nurmi 
Lake, and an SS battalion pushed through the narrows at Kayrala. The 
Russian defenses north and south of the lakes were collapsing. By the 
27th the encirclement battle was over and the pursuit in progress. The 
success was somewhat dimmed by the fact that, although the Russians 
had been forced to abandon almost all their vehicles and equipment, most 
of the troops escaped owing to the Germans' inability to close the ring 
from the north. 30 

To the Verman Line 

While the Russians in bloody fighting managed to keep the jaws of the 
pincers apart northeast of Nurmi Lake during the morning of 27 August, 
the XXXVI Corps hastily regrouped, returning its detached units to the 
169th Division and attaching three SS battalions to the Finnish 6th Di- 
vision, and ordered a relentless pursuit in the direction of Allakurtti. At 
the end of the day advance parties were within four miles of Allakurtti 
on the road and on the railroad, but the Russians had fallen back to pre- 
pared positions and held a bridgehead around the western outskirts of 

30 A.O.K . Norwegen, K.T.B., 19-27 Aug 41. XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 19-27 Aug 41. 
169.I.D., K.T.B. 2, Teil 1, 19-27 Aug 41. 



the town. Attacking the bridgehead frontally and on both flanks, the 
corps made small progress until late on the 30th when it forced the 
Russians back to the eastern bank of the Tuntsa River. On the next 
day a regiment of the 169th Division, having found a foot bridge the 
Russians had overlooked when they blew up the road and railroad 
bridges, crossed into the eastern section of Allakurtti. After another day 
of fighting at the eastern edge of town, the Russians on the night of 1 
September suddenly fell back, leaving the way open to the Voyta River, 
six miles to the east. As the XXXVI Corps drew up to the Voyta on the 
2d, the Army of Norway pulled out the last two battalions of the 7th 
SS-Regiment for transfer to the Finnish III Corps; and the battalion of 
the 9th SS-Regiment, which had been attached late in the Kayrala opera- 
tion, was ordered returned to the Mountain Corps Norway. 31 

With reduced strength, the XXXVI Corps faced the Voyta River 
Line, the pre- 1940 Soviet border fortifications, manned in the critical 
center sector — lying astride the road and railroad — by the motorized 
regiment of the 1st Tank Division and on the flanks by the remnants of 
four regiments of the 104th and 122d Rifle Divisions. The motorized 
regiment had been attached to the 104th Rifle Division but had been 
located outside the Kayrala encirclement and, therefore, was reason- 
ably fresh. From Kandalaksha the Russians were bringing up replace- 
ments, reportedly 8,000 — many of them prisoners and labor camp in- 
mates — by 15 September. 32 The XXXVI Corps ranged its forces along 
the river, the 169th Division on the north and the Finnish 6th Division 
on the south. 

On the afternoon of 6 September the corps opened a frontal attack 
across the river with four regiments and sent one regiment in a wide 
enveloping sweep around the northern flank of the fortified line to Hill 
366, southwest of the northern Verman Lake. The frontal attack was 
promptly stopped dead except on the right flank of the 169th Division 
where one regiment established a small bridgehead south of the road. 
The enveloping thrust progressed rapidly up to Hill 366, but there the 
regimental commander discovered that the hill which reconnaissance 
two days earlier had reported unoccupied was in fact fortified and 
strongly held. The regiment found itself in an extremely precarious 
situation, tied down in heavy fighting, and isolated five miles behind 
the enemy lines. From this, during the next several days, there developed 
a heated exchange of demands and accusations between corps head- 
quarters and the regimental commander — the best in the XXXVI 
Corps, who had won the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in the fighting 
at Salla. The acrimony resulted in part from the immediate crisis but 
was even more a symptom of the exhaustion overtaking the corps. 

31 XXXVI A.K., K.T.B. 3, 27 Aug-2 Sep 41. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 28 
Aug-2 Sep 41. 

32 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Ic, Az D 11, Nr. 1260/41, Feindlage vom 
7.9.-17.9.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Ic Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 25353/1. 


Motorcycle stuck in the thick mud on a road on the XXXVt Corps front. 

On the next day, in cloudburst-like rainstorms, the attack made no 
progress. That night the XXXVI Corps intercepted a radio message 
transmitted by an NKVD station ordering the Voyta positions held at 
all costs, even in encirclement. Knowing the Russian tenacity in hold- 
ing prepared positions, corps immediately decided to abandon the frontal 
attack and concentrate on the enveloping left flank. But the regiment 
there was in trouble. On the 7th it had taken Hill 366 and reported 
taking Hill 386 a mile farther south, but on the following morning it 
developed that Hill 386 had not been taken. The regimental com- 
mander, his agitation increasing throughout the day, repeatedly called 
for more men and artillery support. Corps ordered an additional regi- 


ment to join the attack and began sending up a Finnish regiment to 
cover the exposed flank northeast of Hill 366. At this critical stage 
the XXXVI Corps had no air support. The Army of Norway had 
only three dive bombers available at Rovaniemi, the rest of the planes 
being assigned to the Mountain Corps Norway operation in progress 
on the Litsa. 

The attack remained stalled north of Hill 386 for two days. When 
the hill was taken on the 10th, the XXXVI Corps ordered the new 
regiment to push south to the road and then east to the Verman River 
and the original regiment to turn west past Lysaya Mountain and bring 
about the collapse of the Voyta fortifications by an attack from the rear. 
The latter regiment hesitated for almost a day and moved out only 
after Feige intervened personally. On the 11th the 169th Division 
pushed a battalion across the Voyta at the road, and after another day's 
fighting established contact with the regiment coming from the east. 
With the road open, artillery and tanks could move up to the Verman 
River, but south of the road the Russians clung to their positions and 
had to be driven out piecemeal by the Finnish 6th Division in another 
week's fighting. On 15 September they briefly threatened the entire 
corps front by retaking Hill 366. 

When this last crisis had passed, the XXXVI Corps found itself 
facing the Verman Line, more prepared positions strung along the 
Verman River, anchored on the north on the Verkhneye Verman Lake 
and in the south on Lake Tolvand, with the Russians still holding bridge- 
heads around the road and railroad. 33 In the Verman Line the 104th 
and 12 2d Rifle Divisions were regrouping. During the next two weeks, 
with 5,000 replacements, they would be brought up to 80 percent of 
strength. Between the Verman Line and Kandalaksha the Russians 
had, since June, been using forced labor, mostly women, to build at 
least three more fortified lines. 34 

On 13 September the Army of Norway informed the XXXVI Corps 
that it intended to shift the army main effort to the XXXVI Corps 
zone — the Mountain Corps Norway operation on the Litsa was faltering. 
This proposal the XXXVI Corps characterized as "grotesque" and 
"hardly calculated to arouse confidence in the higher leadership." The 
corps was worn out. It had sustained 9,463 casualties since the beginning 
of the campaign, 2,549 of them after 1 September. 35 The 169th Di- 
vision was judged no longer capable of executing even a defensive 
mission. In his situation estimate of 16 September, Feige maintained 
that two good opportunities for exploiting the successes of the XXXVI 

33 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 2-15 Sep 41. Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., Kriegstage- 
buch mit Anlagen, 3.9-17.9.41. XXXVI AK 23305. 

34 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Ic, Az D 11, Nr. 1260/41, Feindlage vom 
18.9.-2.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Ic Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 25353/1. 

35 Gen Kdo. XXXVI, la, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, 16.9.41, in 


Corps had been lost for lack of sufficient troops — once immediately 
after the encirclement of Kayrala and again on 15 September in front 
of the Verman Line, when, Feige said, "the door to Kandalaksha stood 
open." The XXXVI Corps could go no farther on its own power, and, 
as each day passed, the enemy regained strength. A push to Kandalak- 
sha was still possible, but it would take at least one mountain division and 
one more Finnish division. Even so, since the Russians had time to re- 
cover their equilibrium, it would be, as it had been so far, a matter of 
fighting from line to line. 36 

The XXXVI Corps saw the fault as lying entirely with the Army of 
Norway, which was not the case. On 25 August Falkenhorst had asked 
the OKW for the remaining two regiments of the 163d Infantry Division 
to exploit the victory at Kayrala but had received no reply. In the con- 
ference with Jodl on 4 September Buschenhagen had proposed diverting 
the 6th Mountain Division to the XXXVI Corps, but at that time Hitler 
was intent on using the division to take Murmansk as soon as possible. 
Ten days later, at Fuehrer Headquarters, Falkenhorst had asked for per- 
mission to use both the 6th Mountain Division and the 163d Infantry 
Division in the XXXVI Corps zone. The mountain division was re- 
fused. Hitler had promised a decision on the 163d Division in three to 
four days depending on the outcome of the operations around Leningrad, 
which at that time were believed to be in their final phase. The XXXVI 
Corps, he had ordered, was to continue its advance "if at all possible." 37 

On 1 7 September the Army of Norway instructed Feige to establish a 
defensive line on the Verman and rest his troops by thirds. All army 
could promise was the Schuetzenverband Oslo, a regimental headquarters 
with two battalions, which was on its way from Norway. 38 Feige noted 
bitterly that the troops as well as the staff believed the exertions of the 
corps had been in vain and that another good opportunity to bring the 
march on Kandalaksha to a successful conclusion had been missed. He 
predicted that the corps had seen its last major action, for the Lapland 
winter was approaching. 39 

Five days later, on 22 September, Fuehrer Directive No. 36 ordered 
the XXXVI Corps to make all preparations for resuming the offensive 
toward Kandalaksha in the first half of October. The Finnish High 
Command would be asked to send the 163d Division in time. The 
operations of the Finnish III Corps were to be stopped and all the troops 
freed transferred to the XXXVI Corps. 40 But as the month drew to 

"Hoeh. Kdo. XXXVI, der Befehlshaber, Lage am 15.9.41, 16.9.41, XXXVI A.K., 
K.T.B. 3 Anlagenband G. XXXVI AK 22102/1 1. 

37 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 25 Aug, 4, 13, 15, and 17 Sep 41. 

38 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 17 Sep 41. 

38 Gen. Kdo. XXXVI A.K., Kriegstagebuch mit Anlagen, 3.9.-17.9.41, 17 Sep 41. 
XXXVI AK 23305. 

40 Der Fuehrer und Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op), 
Weisung Nr. 36, 22.9.41, in A.O.K Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 
20 19070/3. 


German submarine in a northern fiord. 

its end the prospects of getting the 163d Division dimmed. On 5 Oc- 
tober, after learning that the 1 63d Division could not be expected in less 
than four to five weeks, the Army of Norway postponed the XXXVI 
Corps operation until winter and began drawing out troops with the 
intention of reviving operations in the Finnish III Corps zone. 41 

The OKW, on 8 October, answered the Army of Norway report on 
its new intentions with an order to stop all operations. A call to Jodl 
at OKW brought the explanation that the total situation on the main 
Russian front had changed so greatly that the military collapse of the 
Soviet Union in the foreseeable future appeared "not unlikely." 42 Two 
days later Fuehrer Directive No. 37 confirmed the OKW order and 
jodl's remarks. It stated that, in the light of the Army of Norway 
reports on the condition of its troops and its operational possibilities 
and since the defeat or destruction of the mass of the Soviet Armed 
Forces on the main front made it unnecessary to tie down Russian forces 
in Finland any longer, the Army of Norway operations would be stopped. 
The army's chief missions for the immediate future were to protect the 
nickel mines and prepare to take Murmansk and the Rybatchiy Penin- 
sula during the winter. German and Finnish units would be exchanged 
by the XXXVI Corps and the III Corps so that Mannerheim could 
take over the III Corps and proceed with his planned reorganization 
of the Finnish Army. 41 

" A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 81/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 
7. 10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

,s Army Group Center had just closed the Bryansk and Vyazma pockets and was 
launching its final drive on Moscow. 

4 *Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.}, 
Nr. 441696/41, Weisung 37, 10.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., 
Band II. AOK 20 19070/3, 


Finnish III Corps Final Operations 

During the first half of September the situation of the III Corps 
continued to deteriorate. Group F reopened its offensive and was im- 
mediately stopped by the Russians, who, after the arrival of the 88th 
Rifle Division, had been able to assemble two full regiments, an artillery 
regiment, and the 54th Rifle Division headquarters in the Ukhta area. 
Group J and SS-"Nord" under constant pressure from the 88th Rifle 
Division — joined in mid-September by the Independent Brigade Griv- 
nin (one regiment of the 54th Division and the Special Regiment "Mur- 
mansk") — had to abandon the advanced positions south of Yelovoye 
Lake and fall back to a line eight miles east of Kesten'ga. After the 
Russians achieved local breakthroughs and threatened to force a further 
withdrawal, the Army of Norway on 9 September asked for an addi- 
tional Finnish regiment. Erfurth refused to transmit the request to 
Mannerheim, stating that the Finnish political situation made it inop- 
portune. 44 On the 1 2th, in order to create some sort of reserve for the 
III Corps, the Army of Norway pulled the SS-Reconnaissance Battalion 
out of the XXXVI Corps Sector and ordered the transfer of the regi- 
mental staff and one battalion of the Finnish 14th Regiment from 
Pechenga. A second appeal to Mannerheim for a regiment brought a 
refusal tempered by a promise of 2,800 replacements. 45 

When the last elements of SS-Division "Nord" were transferred to 
the III Corps in early September, Falkenhorst insisted that the division 
be assigned a sector under its own commander. Siilasvuo, preferring 
to keep the SS under the command of Group J, protested ; but Falken- 
horst could not allow a Finnish colonel to command a German division 
while its own headquarters stood idly by. The SS-Division had to some 
extent found itself but was still far from reliable. At the middle of the 
month Siilasvuo again asked that the SS-Division staff be taken out so 
that he could assign the troops according to their capabilities. He had 
given the SS the best sector, which was subsequently reduced several 
times until it comprised barely one-third of the line, but the SS still 
could not fight off enemy attacks without help. Falkenhorst refused, 
and the III Corps in the future had to adjust its operations to take into 
account this element of weakness. 46 

After his trip to Fuehrer Headquarters on 14 September Falkenhorst 
received instructions, later confirmed in Directive 36, to stop the Group 
F attack on Ukhta and permit Group J and SS-"Nord" to go over to 
the defensive, shortening their front if necessary. Toward the end of 
the month, after the Russian pressure had suddenly slacked off and 

44 See below, ch. 10, pp. 16ff. 
A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 1-16 Sep 41. 

m Gen. Kdo. Ill A.K., Nr. 138/III/2.b., an das A.O.K., 19.9.41, in A.O.K. 
Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band III. AOK 20 19070/3. A.O.K. Norwegen, 
K.T.B., 2 and 19 Sep 41. 


prisoner of war interrogations revealed poor morale among the Russians 
in the Kesten'ga— Loukhi area, the III Corps asked for reinforcements 
and proposed to take up its advance to Loukhi. Since the prospects 
of getting the XXXVI Corps back into motion had dwindled to almost 
nothing, the Army of Norway immediately offered a regiment of the 
Finnish 6th Division, the Schuetzenverband Oslo, the 9th SS-Regiment 
from the Mountain Corps Norway, a regiment of artillery and the re- 
maining battalion of the Finnish 14th Regiment. On 6 October the 
Army of Norway gave orders for the attack — which it had to cancel 
two days later when the OKW ordered all operations stopped. The 
planned troop shifts were halted, but the 9th SS-Regiment and the 
battalion of the Finnish 14th Regiment were held in the III Corps zone 
at the disposal of the Army of Norway. 47 

At exactly the time Hitler canceled the Army of Norway operations 
the situation on the left flank of the III Corps was changing from 
favorable to downright tempting. The Independent Brigade Grivnin 
had been dissolved. One of its regiments was identified later opposite 
the XXXVI Corps and the other had moved south, possibly to the 54th 
Rifle Division. On 11 October Falkenhorst and Siilasvuo met and 
decided that the changed situation offered good prospects for an attack 
but that, in the light of Hitler's order, it would have to be limited to an 
effort to improve the positions of Group J and SS-"Nord." Twelve 
days later, Siilasvuo reported that he believed the attack to improve 
his positions would be a complete success. Falkenhorst revealed the 
direction his thoughts were taking when he asked whether, in a favor- 
able situation, a thrust straight through to Loukhi was possible. Siilas- 
vuo replied that it was. The Army of Norway had already ordered the 
9th SS-Regiment to Kuusamo and a regiment of the Finnish 6th Di- 
vision, an infantry battalion and a Nebelwerfer battery from the XXXVI 
Corps to the III Corps. 48 

The III Corps set as its objective the Yelovoye Lake— Verkhneye 
Lake Line. The SS-Division would tie down the Russians on its 
front between the road and railroad, and Group F (three Finnish regi- 
ments and the 9th SS-Regiment) would break through along the rail- 
road turning north to trap the enemy on the SS-Division front. In 
the south an independent detachment of two battalions would skirt the 
Russian left flank toward Verkhneye Lake. 49 On 30 October the 
attack began, and in two days the III Corps had encircled a Russian 
regiment opposite the SS-Division front. The III Corps on 3 Novem- 
ber reported its intention to destroy the regiment as quickly as possible 
and push on to the narrows north of Lebedevo Lake, but during the 

47 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 17 Sep-8 Oct 41. 

48 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 11-23 Oct 41. 

49 Gen. Kdo. Ill A.K., Nr. 411 /III/3.b., Korpsbefehl ueber Angriffsvorbereitungen, 
20.10.41 and Gen. Kdo. Ill A.K., Nr. 465/III/3.b., Angriffsbefehl des Korps, 
25.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 


following days the operation took a strange turn as Siilasvuo insisted on 
mopping up the pocket before resuming his advance. 50 

On the 9th in a sharply worded telegram the OKW called for a report 
on the situation and intentions with respect to the III Corps and pointed 
out that Fuehrer Directive No. 37 had ordered operations on this sector 
of the front limited to defense. The Army of Norway replied that two 
regiments of the 88th Rifle Division had been virtually destroyed, and 
the narrows between Lebedevo Lake and Yelovoye Lake could be taken 
as a springboard for future operations against Loukhi. 51 On the same 
day Erfurth informed the Army of Norway that Mannerheim wanted 
to proceed with the reorganization of the Finnish Army and asked that 
the III Corps go over to the defensive as soon as possible. To an in- 
quiry whether "as soon as possible" meant "immediately" Erfurth replied 
that Mannerheim left the exact time up to the Army of Norway, but 
he was in a hurry to get on with the reorganization. 52 On the 15th 
Buschenhagen went to Helsinki for a conference with General Warlimont 
of the OKW. Warlimont emphasized that the OKW took a dim view 
of the III Corps operation: the Finns wanted control of their troops in 
order to proceed with the reorganization, and Himmler wanted SS- 
"Nord," for which he intended to substitute other SS units, sent home. 
Warlimont demanded that the first German troops be drawn out of the 
III Corps sector by 1 December at the latest. 53 

In the meantime, beginning on 7 November, the Russians had moved 
the "Polyarnyy" Division, renamed the 186th Rifle Division, to the III 
Corps front. It was regarded as no great threat since it numbered no 
more than 2,600 men. 54 On 13 November the III Corps completed 
mopping up the pocket. The corps counted 3,000 Russian dead and 
took 2,600 prisoners. 

But Siilasvuo made no move toward continuing the operation, and 
on the 16th he reported that his corps was facing 17 enemy battalions, 
which led him to conclude that a further attack would produce no results. 
The commanders of SS-"Nord" and Group J, both of whom believed 

59 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 3 Nov 41. Dtsch. V.O. beim III. (finn.) A.K., 
Bericht ueber die Einstellung des Angriffs III. (finn.) A.K. Mitte November 1941, 
in A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Chefsachen, 2.6.41-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 

51 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L {I Op.), Nr. 441898/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland, 9.11.41 in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Bd. II. AOK 20 
19070/3. A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 9 Nov 41. 

62 Verbindungsstab Nord, la., Nr. 97/41 an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, 
9.11.41 and Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 100/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. 
Finnland, 10.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 

63 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, O. Qji., Qu. 1, Nr. 343/41, Besprechung 
zwischen General Warlimont und General Buschenhagen in Helsinki am 15.11.41, 
30.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

64 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Ic, Az D 11, Nr. 2054/41, Feindlage vom 
10-25.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Ic Anlagen zum K.T.B. I. AOK 20 25353/1. 


the prospects for continuing the operation were good, objected to his 
estimate of the situation. Nevertheless, on the following day he informed 
Group J that the attack was canceled, and on the 18th he told the Army 
of Norway flatly that he was not in a position to continue the operation 
and would hold the existing line. 65 The Army of Norway, influenced by 
the Finnish attitude and that of the OKW as expressed by Warlimont, 
had already decided to abandon the operation, and it instructed the III 
Corps to take up defensive positions. 56 

Reports from the German liaison officers with the III Corps and Group 
J revealed that as late as 18 November the commander of Group J had 
considered his force fully capable of continuing the attack and had stated 
that both he and his regimental commanders wanted to do so. Siilasvuo, 
on the other hand, had since the closing of the pocket in the first days of 
November shown signs of not intending to continue the advance and had 
begun building defensive positions even before the pocket was wiped 
out. 57 Falkenhorst thought Siilasvuo's remarkable behavior could be 
traced to recent United States peace moves directed at Finland. 58 

Falkenhorst's suspicion was well founded. On 2 7 October the United 
States Government had submitted a strong note to President Ryti in 
which it demanded that Finland stop all offensive operations and with- 
draw to the 1939 border and issued the specific warning that "should 
material of war sent from the United States to Soviet Territory in the 
north by way of the Arctic Ocean be attacked on route either presumably 
or even allegedly from territory under Finnish control in the present state 
of opinion in the United States such an incident must be expected to 
bring about an instant crisis in relations between Finland and the United 
States." 59 During the next few weeks relations between the United 
States and Finland drifted dangerously close to a breach. Although 
Ryti indignantly rejected the American demands, Finland certainly did 
not want, in those perilous days, to have a Finnish corps under German 
command posing the only serious threat to the Murmansk Railroad. The 
Germans were beginning to experience the frustrations of coalition 

65 Generalkommando HI A.K., Nr. 652/III/3.b., an Herrn Oberbefehlshaber der 
Armee Norwegen, 18.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Chefsachen, 2.6.41- 18.11 .41 . 
AOK 20 20844/2. 

68 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 16-18 Nov 41. 

67 Verbindungsoffz Gruppe J, Notiz zum Kriegstagebuch, 20.11.41 and Dtsch. V.O. 
beim III. (finn.) A.K., Bericht ueber die Einstellung des Angriffs III. (finn.) A.K. 
Mitte November 1941, 20.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Chefsachen, 2.6.41— 
18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 

58 Marginal note on Dtsch. V.O. beim III. (finn.) A.K., Bericht ueber die Einstel- 
lung des Angriffs III. (finn.) A.K. Mitte November 1941, in A.O.K. Norwegen, la, 
Chefsachen, 2.6.41.-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 

5fl Bluecher, tel. to Foreign Ministry, No. 1204, 28.10.41. U.S. Department of 
State, German Foreign Ministry Records. William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, 
The Undeclared War, 1940-1941 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), p. 831. 


The Army of Lapland 

In the first implementing instructions for Fuehrer Directive No. 37, 
issued on 7 November 1941, the OKW announced that, as soon as 
the transfer of command could be arranged, the Headquarters, Army 
of Norway, would return to Norway and Dietl would establish the 
Headquarters, Army of Lapland, to assume command of the German 
force in Finland. 60 That Falkenhorst would in the end himself become 
a casualty of the 1941 campaign, if not inevitable, was certainly pre- 
dictable. Aside from his being to some extent tagged as a "hard-luck" 
general by the course of events in his sector, Falkenhorst had since the 
start of the campaign been subjected to a number of influences which, 
on the one hand, made him something less than master in his own house 
and, on the other, ensured that he would be saddled with most of the 
blame for failures. The Fifth Air Force, for instance, was an inde- 
pendent command; moreover, it could always depend on Goering to 
secure its views a favorable hearing in the highest places. Similarly, 
the SS-Di vision and Finnish III Corps had direct channels to Himmler 
and Mannerheim. Mannerheim's headquarters, in close contact with 
the OKW through the German Liaison Staff North, while officially main- 
taining an air of detachment, kept a close and critical eye on the Army 
of Norway operations. Far from the least significant of the influences 
operating against Falkenhorst was that which Dietl himself exerted. 
Dietl was one of the few generals whom Hitler liked and trusted; fur- 
thermore, the defense of Narvik in 1940 had apparently convinced 
Hitler that pietl possessed special endowments of luck and the ability 
to master adversity. As a consequence, Hitler from the outset was 
inclined to place more confidence in Dietl than in Falkenhorst; and, 
after the advance out of Finland slowed down, he relied increasingly on 
the hope that Dietl might accomplish a second "miracle of Narvik." 61 

The change of command in Finland promised several advantages. 
Dietl was very popular with both the German troops and the Finns, and 
his taking command could be expected to raise the morale of the troops 
and help regain the confidence of the Finnish people. The appoint- 
ment alone would be taken as a promise of victories to come. His 
soldierly qualities and personal charm augured well for his future rela- 
tions with Mannerheim. Perhaps most important of all, the creation 
of a separate German command made it possible to offer Mannerheim 
the over-all command in Finland and so, possibly, secure more aid from 
the Finnish Army in future operations against the Murmansk Railroad. 

60 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (J Op.), Nr. 441861/41, Durchfuehrungsbestimmungen 
Nr. 1 zur Weisung 37, 7.11.41, in AOK Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. 
AOK 20 19070/3. 

61 General der Infanterie a. D. Erich Buschenhagen, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940—1945, May 1957. 


At the mid-November conference in Helsinki Warlimont told Erfurth 
that this could be the ultimate purpose of the change of command in 
Finland. 62 Mannerheim stated in his memoirs that an offer was made 
to him in the winter of 1941-42. 63 

Strangely enough, it was Diet! who objected most seriously to his own 
appointment. His talent, he knew, lay principally in the direct command 
of troops at the front, and he doubted his ability to assume the more 
remote responsibilities of an army commander. On being briefed at 
army headquarters, he became aware, apparently for the first time, of 
the tactical and command problems which Falkenhorst had faced; and, 
on 24 November, in a letter to Jodl he asked that his appointment as 
Commanding General, Army of Lapland, be canceled. In the first 
week of December, he was called to the Fuehrer Headquarters where 
Hitler and Jodl in a combined effort persuaded him not to relinquish 
the command. 64 

SILBERFUCHS in Retrospect 

After three and one-half months of fighting, at a cost of 21,501 Ger- 
man and more than 5,000 Finnish casualties, the Army of Norway was 
thoroughly bogged down in all three of its corps sectors, and the prospects 
for a successful offensive in the future were dim indeed. 65 The outcome 
of Silberfuchs pleased no one — except the Russians. The Finns, 
civilian populace and Army High Command alike, had been watching 
the Army of Norway performance with growing dissillusionment since 
mid-summer. 66 

The failure of Silberfuchs has most frequently been laid to dispersal 
of forces and its concomitant, inability to achieve a clear-cut main effort 
at any one point. Throughout the campaign Feige argued, from 
premises which were both tactically and strategically correct, that the 
main effort should be placed in the XXXVI Corps area. After his last 
attempt to cross the Litsa, Dietl complained to Jodl that the Army of 

62 General der Infanterie a. D. Waldemar Erfurth, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945, 6 May 1957. 

63 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 472. 

64 Dietl an Jodl, 24.11.41, in AOK Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. 
AOK 20 19070/3. Dietl an Chef des Stabes AOK Norwegen, 1.12.41, in "Silber- 
fuchs" Bd. Ill, 12.6.41-10.1.42. AOK 20 20844/6. General der Infanterie a. D. 
Erich Buschenhagen, Comments on Part II of The German Northern Theater of 
Operations, 1 940-1 945, May 1 95 7. 

65 The casualty figures used are those of 29 September for the Germans and 10 
September for the Finns. The losses of the SS-Division "Nord" and the Finnish III 
Corps during October and November probably added about 1,500 to 2,000 to the 
totals. The Army of Norway casualties were only a small part of the total German 
losses of 564,727 on the Eastern Front during the same period, but proportionately 
they were somewhat greater than those for the entire operation (19.83 percent for 
the Army of Norway and 16.61 percent for all armies on the Eastern Front). AOK 
Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 1632/41 an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 29.9.41, in 
AOK Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B. Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. Haider Diary, 
Vol. VII, p. 124. 

88 Haider Diary, Vol., p. 16. 


Norway had failed to establish a main effort at one point and attack there 
with superior forces. 67 Later he lent support to Feige's contention when 
he told Hitler that, because of terrain and other defensive advantages 
of the enemy, operations in the Mountain Corps Norway sector should be 
suspended "for good" and an attempt made to create a main effort op- 
posite Kandalaksha. 68 Since the war Erfurth has suggested that the 
Army of Norway several times failed to carry out OKW orders aimed at 
creating a main effort in one or the other of the army sectors. 69 

To evaluate these criticisms it is necessary to re-examine the ground- 
work of Operation Silberfuchs. In the first place, the objective of 
the Army of Norway was political and psychological rather than 
strategic; that is, Hitler, although he did not expect that the British 
would be able to bring decisive or even substantial aid, wanted to take 
Murmansk to prevent their bringing any aid to the Soviet Union. There 
is some reason for believing that the operation was directed more against 
Great Britain, to demonstrate its isolation and helplessness, than against 
the Soviet Union. Under those circumstances it became worthwhile 
to disregard sound tactics and attempt to stage a quick march along 
the arctic coast to Murmansk. Second, the Army of Norway opera- 
tions were merely subsidiary to the German main effort — in the opinion 
of the OKH, even superfluous. They were deliberately begun with 
limited forces and, quite correctly, substantial new forces were refused 
in order not to detract from the possibility of achieving a decision on the 
main Russian front. 70 Third, the Army of Norway had two defensive 
missions: to protect the nickel mines at Pechenga, which Hitler consis- 
tently rated as more important than the capture of Murmansk; and to 
defend the waist of Finland at Salla, which was indispensable to the 
existence of Finland. The original dispersal of the Army of Norway 
forces was therefore justified, and after the forces were committed it was 
impossible to close down any one of the sectors completely even though 
offensive operations there had become unprofitable. 

The criticisms must also be viewed in the light of the tactical problems 
faced by the Army of Norway. Silberfuchs began — or nearly 
began — with clearly defined main effort in the proper place, the XXXVI 
Corps zone. With the 163 d Infantry Division, which was not expected 
to be held up long at Hanko, the corps would have had four divisions ; 

67 Dietl to Jodl, 27 Sep 41 in Dietl, op. cit., p. 232. 

68 Vortragspunkte fuer Herrn Kommandierenden General, 21.11.41, in Gebirgskorps 
Norwegen, K.T.B. 1, Anlagenband 2. XIX AK 15085/4. Dietl an Jodl, 24.11.41, 
in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

69 Waldemar Erfurth, "Das Problem der Murman-Bahn," Part I, in Wehrwissen- 
schaftliche Rundschau, June 1952. 

70 In this connection it must be considered whether Hitler's concern for the de- 
fense of Norway, where he held seven divisions while operations in Finland lan- 
guished, was not excessive. He did eventually consent to part with two regiments 
and some odds and ends. But their performance seemingly lent weight to his 
argument that the Norwegian garrison troops were not suited to the demands of 
warfare in Karelia and Kola. 


but Hitler's decision to give the 163d Division to Mannerheim and the 
collapse of the SS-Division reduced the corps' strength by half. Falken- 
horst should probably have foreseen the latter disaster; but there was a 
major extenuating factor in that the SS-Division was the only motorized, 
unit available to him. His decision in July to stage the main effort in 
the Mountain Corps Norway sector proved later to be an error of major 
proportions; nevertheless, it was partially justified at the time by the 
extremely slow start of the XXXVI Corps. Moreover, the situation of 
the Mountain Corps was thought at the time to be so precarious that 
the corps could not be left where it was; it could only go forward or 
back, and to pull back would have opened the Rybatchiy Peninsula and 
made the holding of Pechenga doubtful. By 4 September, before 
Dietl's final attack, the Army of Norway was prepared to shift the 6th 
Mountain Division to the strategically more important Kandalaksha 
operation, but then Hitler was intent on Murmansk. 

Erfurth's charge that the Army of Norway failed to carry out instruc- 
tions aimed at creating a definite main effort rests mainly on two orders. 
One was the OKW order of 7 July, which instructed Falkenhorst to 
transfer troops from the XXXVI Corps to the Mountain Corps Norway 
after Salla had been taken. The other was the Fuehrer Directive of 30 
July, which stopped the XXXVI Corps offensive, ordered the Army of 
Norway to concentrate its efforts in the Mountain Corps and the III 
Corps sectors, and proposed that, should the III Corps offensive also 
stall, the troops freed were to be transferred to the Army of Karelia. 71 
The 7 July order carried no specific intent to create a main effort. It 
merely recognized the fact that it had become necessary to restore Dietl's 
original striking force, which was being dissipated in defensive missions 
behind the front at Pechenga and the Rybatchiy Peninsula, particularly 
as a result of Hitler's growing fear of a British landing. The intent of 
the later Fuehrer Directive is less clear. In halting the XXXVI Corps 
and strengthening the Mountain Corps Norway and the III Corps it 
only confirmed measures which the Army of Norway had recommended 
and had already begun putting into effect. The provision regarding 
a shift of forces to the Army of Karelia was new ; whether or not it re- 
sulted from an intention to stop the XXXVI Corps permanently and the 
III Corps eventually as well cannot be determined. That Falkenhorst 
deliberately ignored it is certain; that he put the XXXVI Corps back 
into motion as a means of forestalling its taking effect is likely. Still, it 
must also be pointed out that the directive itself probably did not reflect 
a firm intention on the part of the OKW since no supplementary orders 
were issued. In this context, too, it is necessary to view the question of 
halting operations by one or another of the corps and establishing a main 
effort elsewhere in the light of the tactical situation of the Army of 

71 Erfurth, "Das Problem der Murman-Bahn," Part I, loc. cit. 


Norway. Falkenhorst maintained consistently and correctly that to re- 
lax the pressure at any one point meant giving the Russians an oppor- 
tunity to exploit the superior maneuverability which the Murmansk 
Railroad afforded them to pull out troops and shift them to one of the 
other sectors. With the troops at its disposal the Army of Norway could 
not create a true main effort anywhere without defeating its own ends 
in the process and could not shut down any single sector without creat- 
ing a potential threat elsewhere. 

In the last analysis, it can be said that, while the tactical direction of 
the Army of Norway operations, particularly the decision to build a 
main effort in the Mountain Corps zone, was not above reproach, the 
outcome of Silberfughs was primarily determined by the failure to 
commit a force commensurate in strength with the demands of its mis- 
sion. The most significant contributory element was Russian possession 
of the Murmansk Railroad. This made it possible for the Russian 
Fourteenth Army to move troops and replacements laterally behind the 
lines at will while poor lines of communication forced the three Army 
of Norway corps to fight in isolation. Nearly as important were the 
tremendous defensive potentialities of the terrain, the German troops' 
lack of training and inclination for arctic warfare, and the ability of the 
Russians to bring in reinforcements and replace their losses, when nec- 
essary, by drawing on the numerous prison camps of Kola and Karelia. 


Chapter 10 
Finland's War 

Operations in 1941 

The Finns at the beginning of their 1941-1944 war with the Soviet 
Union, which Mannerheim has called the Continuation War to em- 
phasize its direct antecedents in the Winter War of 1939-1940, faced 
their gigantic adversary with confidence and renewed strength. A 
year and a half earlier they had fought alone; in June 1941 they stood 
at the side of the world's strongest military power. Moreover, their 
own military situation had improved. They had tested leadership 
and experienced troops who, man for man, had proved themselves 
superior to the enemy. Improved mobilization procedures assured the 
Army of approximately twice as many operational units as had been 
available at the outbreak of war in 1939. Supply dumps and arsenals 
emptied during the Winter War had been restocked, mostly with 
German weapons; and it had been possible to increase the firepower 
of the infantry through employment of larger numbers of automatic 
weapons, antitank guns, and heavy mortars. The artillery had heavy 
batteries which had been almost entirely lacking in the Winter War; 
and the Air Force had been strengthened somewhat. 1 In the first 
weeks of war the country mobilized nearly 500,000 men for its armed 
forces, 30,000 for military road and bridge construction, and 80,000 
Lottas (women auxiliaries), a tremendous force for a nation of four 
million, and one which, as was quickly demonstrated, it could not 
maintain indefinitely. 2 

In the last week of June Mannerheim moved his headquarters to Mik- 
keli, the old town from which he had also directed the Winter War. The 
German Liaison Staff North took up quarters nearby. In accordance 
with the operations plan completed and submitted to the OKH on 28 
June he deployed his units along the border south of the line Oulu- 
Belomorsk. In the north to close the gap between the Army of Norway 
right flank and the Finnish main force the 14th Division was stationed 

1 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 443. 

2 OKW, WFSt, Abt. LI H Op., Nr. 44151/41, Oberbefehlshaber der finnischen 
Wehrmacht an Herrn Keitel, 29.8.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, 
la., Chef sachen, 2.6.-18.1 1.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 


Finnish Lotta on aircraft spatting duty. 

on either side of Lieksa. The main force, Army of Karelia, under Man- 
nerheim's chief of staff, General Heinrichs, occupied a line extending 
from Ilomantsi on the north to a point opposite the narrows between 
Yanis Lake and Lake Ladoga. The Army of Karelia consisted of Group 
O (one cavalry brigade and the 1st and 2d Jaeger Brigades) on the left, 
the VI Corps ( 11th Division and 5th Division) in the center, and the 
VII Corps (19th Division and 7th Division) on the right. The 1st 
Division was the army reserve. The front between the Army of Karelia 
right flank and the Gulf of Finland was held by the II Corps (2d, 18th, 
and 15th Divisions) on the left and the IV Corps (8th, 10th } 12th, and 
4th Divisions) on the right. The 1 7th Division was committed to seal 


off Hanko. After its arrival in the first days of July Mannerheim sta- 
tioned the German 163d Infantry Division (less one regiment) at 
Joensuu as his reserve. 3 

The Soviet forces opposite the Finnish Army were attached to Marshal 
Klimenti Voroshilov's Northwest Front. North of Lake Ladoga, in the 
Army of Karelia sector, the Soviet Seventh Army had three divisions in 
the line and one in reserve. On the Isthmus of Karelia, opposite the 
Finnish II and IV Corps, the Soviet Twenty-third Army had four divi- 
sions in the fortifications along the border and two to three divisions in 
reserve. The Russian garrison at Hanko consisted of two rifle brigades 
plus fortification, railway, and air defense units. By the first week of 
July, German successes on the main front had forced the Russians to 
weaken their concentration against Finland; nearly all of the reserves 
were pulled out, leaving only seven divisions and the two brigades at 
Hanko to oppose the Finnish Army. When Mannerheim opened his 
offensive he had a clear 3 : 1 numerical superiority and the assurance that 
the Soviet main force would remain tied down on the German front. 4 

The Finnish plan was to strike on either side of Yanis Lake, split the 
Russian main force, and then advance east of Lake Ladoga with the 
Army of Karelia via Olonets to Lodeynoye Pole on the Svir River. The 
II Corps would defend the border but hold itself ready to advance on 
order into the Elisenvara-Khitola area and, in the further course of 
operations, thrust toward Lakhdenpokh'ya on the northwest shore of 
Lake Ladoga. The IV Corps would hold on the border, and the 14th 
Division would advance toward Reboly and Lendery. 5 


The Finnish offensive began on 10 July with the Army of Karelia 
main effort in the VI Corps zone north of Yanis Lake between Vyartsilya 
and Korpisel'kya. At Korpisel'kya the attack struck a soft spot in the 
Russian line and, with the help of a Jaeger brigade from Group O, 
quickly achieved a breakthrough. 6 After occupying Kokkari and the 
village of Tolvayarvi on the 1 2th, the Jaeger brigade turned south toward 
Muanto, which it took two days later. Continuing its advance on the 
15th it cut the east-west railroad at Loymola and in another quick thrust 
on the following day reached Koirinoya on the east shore of Lake Ladoga. 

3 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 445^4-7. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 17ff. 

4 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 444, 447. 

5 Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 183/41 , Auszug aus den O perationsanweisungen 
fuer Kar. Armee, 1.7.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Tagesmeldungen, Band I. AOK 
20 19070/12. 

6 The Finnish Jaeger brigades were light infantry equipped with bicycles for summer 
operations. They were highly mobile, and in broken, wooded terrain they could 
perform the spearhead functions ordinarily assigned to armored and motorized columns 
in more open country. Their performance impressed the Germans, and Falkenhorst 
paid them the compliment of repeatedly trying to get one of them for employment 
on the Army of Norway front. 


Map 17 

With that the Russians in the vicinity of Sortavala were cut off from the 
east. The Finns had covered 65 miles in six days. 

Meanwhile, the VI Corps right-flank units going by way of Vyartsilya 
had been slowed down in hill country off the east shore of Yanis Lake 
near Soanlakhti, and the VII Corps, which had been expected to sweep 
west of Yanis Lake, had met heavy resistance and gained little ground. 
On the 16th, Russian resistance at Soanlakhti collapsed, and on the 
following day the Finns reached the Yanis River where they set up a 
defense line facing west. At the same time Mannerheim ordered the 
1st Division out of reserve to protect the eastern flank at Loymola and 
shifted the 17th Division from Hanko to the vicinity of Vyartsilya. The 
front at Hanko was held thereafter only by coastal defense units and a 
Swedish volunteer battalion. On the 16th Mannerheim committed the 
163d Division on the east flank to take Suvilakhti, the road and railroad 
junction at the southern tip of Suo Lake. 

The VI Corps, with orders to continue southward, sent one column 
east via KyaznyasePka to Tulm Lake on the 20th while the main force 
pushed south along the shore of Lake Ladoga and took Salmi on the 
21st after three days of heavy fighting. On the following day the VI 
Corps occupied Mansila on the pre- 1940 border, and by the 24th had 
reached the line of the Tuloksa River where Mannerheim ordered it 
to stop. On the night of the 24th the Russians landed a brigade on the 
islands of Mantsin and Lunkulan west of Salmi and threw a heavy 
counterattack against the Tuloksa River line. The Russian assaults 
failed, but fighting continued heavy throughout the rest of July and early 
August as the Finns went over to the defensive. 

On the Army of Karelia left flank the German 163d Division ran 
into trouble in the lake country north of the Loymola-Suvilakhti rail 
line. The VI Corps, trying to help, sent a column from the Tulm Lake 
area which on 26 July cut the railroad behind Suvilakhti north of Shot 
Lake, but at the end of the month the 163d Division was thoroughly 
bogged down. It was feeling the absence of its third regiment acutely 
and clearly needed reinforcements. Mannerheim ordered in Group O 
and its two brigades. 

The VII Corps on the Army of Karelia right flank had kept the 
Russians west of Yanis Lake under constant pressure and at the end of 
July stood at Ruskeala. At the same time one division detached from 
the VI Corps had established a holding line along the Yanis River from 
Lake Ladoga to Yanis Lake. The Russians, hemmed in on two sides, 
were forced back toward Sortavala; and favorable conditions for clean- 
ing out the northwest shore of Lake Ladoga were created. 

On 3 1 July the II Corps began an offensive from its line on the border 
between the Vuoksi River and Pyha Lake. Its objective was to take the 
railroad junction at Khitola and cut the Russian communications in 
the Sortavala area. Mannerheim held the 10th Division, detached from 


the IV Corps, in reserve. The offensive made good progress, and on 5 
August Mannerheim threw in the 10th Division, which in a quick thrust 
reached the shore of Lake Ladoga near Lakhdenpokh'ya. Khitola fell 
to the main force on the 11th while a flanking column reached Lake 
Ladoga between Khitola and Keksgol'm on the same day. The Russians 
between Khitola and Yanis Lake were split into two groups : one of 
about two divisions was forced back to the vicinity of Kurkiyoki; and the 
other, slightly smaller, held out in Sortavala. The Russians at Kurki- 
yoki withdrew to Kilpola Island, close to the coast; from there they were 
evacuated by boat in mid-August. 

Before closing in on Sortavala Mannerheim shifted VII Corps Head- 
quarters east to take command of the sector between the 163d Division 
and the VI Corps and placed the VII Corps troops under the newly 
created I Corps. The I Corps then pushed in on Sortavala, taking the 
old Finnish city on 1 6 August. Most of the Russians escaped to Valaam 
Island, later to be pulled back to the Leningrad area. The offensive 
on the northwest shore of Lake Ladoga had been a brilliant tactical 
success, but was still a disappointment since neither the Finnish nor the 
German Air Force, which at that time had a squadron of Ju 88's ranging 
over Lake Ladoga as far north as Valaam Island, was able to prevent 
the Russian evacuations. 7 

The Karelian Isthmus 

During the first half of August the Finnish plan of operations under- 
went a fundamental change. As early as 14 July Erfurth had reported 
a certain resistance on Mannerheim's part to the idea of an offensive 
east of Lake Ladoga; this the OKH dismissed as mostly a product of Er- 
furth's imagination. However, on 2 August, when the OKH asked 
the Finns to resume their offensive east of Lake Ladoga toward Lodey- 
noye Pole in conjunction with the final drive toward Leningrad which 
the Army Group North would launch within a week or so, Mannerheim 
refused, saying he could not resume operations east of the lake until the 
163d Division had executed its mission of taking Suvilakhti. The 
OKH attempted to put pressure on the 163d Division but, when it be- 
came apparent that no quick action could be expected in that direction, 
turned to Mannerheim on 10 August with a second proposal: that he 
help by staging an offensive toward Leningrad on the Isthmus of 
Karelia. Mannerheim agreed. 8 

There is reason to suspect that the idea of an operation on the 
Isthmus of Karelia was not unwelcome to Mannerheim and that he 
may, in fact, have deliberately forced the appearance of such a con- 

7 Mannherheim, op. cit., pp. 445-49. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 26-32. 

8 Chefgruppe Verb. Stab Nord, la, Nr. 284/41, Auszug aus Weisung des OKH an 
Verb. Stab Nord, OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. {Ia), Nr. 40722/41, in 163d. I.D., 
la Anlagen zum Kriegstagebuch, Band II. 163 ID 16260/19. Erfurth, op. cit., 
pp. 34ff. 


tingency. 9 In his entire conduct of the war Mannerheim demonstrated 
that he was interested above all in the former Finnish territories and, 
secondly, in what might be called the Finnish Irredenta in Eastern 
Karelia. Toward adventurous sallies into the wide-open spaces of Rus- 
sia in support of the German strategy he was cold. Mannerheim was 
also, as the Germans more than once noted, a pessimist, which made 
him remarkably sensitive to even temporarily untoward shifts in the 
course of events; therefore his opposition to an operation east of Lake 
Ladoga could also have been influenced by a negative assessment of the 
performance of the Army Group North. 

The mission of Generalf eldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb's Army 
Group North was to cut off Leningrad and establish contact with the 
Finns in the Lake Ladoga area. Starting from East Prussia the army 
group made rapid progress through the Baltic States; but Voroshilov, 
who had no intention of attempting a stand in the recently annexed ter- 
ritories, pulled his forces back in good order. As a result, there was a 
noticeable absence of the gigantic encirclement battles characteristic of 
the other areas of the Eastern Front. On crossing into the Soviet Union 
proper in early July the Army Group North began to meet stiffer re- 
sistance, and at about the same time the constant expansion of the front 
reduced Leeb's ability to maintain a clear-cut main effort. Between Lake 
Ilmen and Lake Peipus the terrain proved unsuitable for tanks, and for 
several weeks after mid- July progress fell off to a crawl. In this situation 
Leeb undertook to organize a final thrust, timed for the second week of 
August, out of the sector west of Lake Ilmen to Leningrad. Hitler, who 
at that time regarded Leningrad as his most important objective, wanted 
to detach the Third Panzer Group (army) from the Army Group Center 
to lend weight to the attack but was dissuaded and ended by sending one 
armored corps. It was to aid this attack, begun on 10 August, that the 
OKH urged Mannerheim to reopen his offensive east of Lake Ladoga. 
Mannerheim, understandably, preferred to await further developments. 10 

With the situation on the northwest shore of Lake Ladoga well in 
hand, Mannerheim on 13 August ordered the II Corps to turn south 

9 Generalleutnant Erwin Engelbrecht, Commanding General, 163d Infantry Divi- 
sion, recorded a conversation he had with General Talvela, Commanding General, 
VI Corps, on 2 September 1941 which lends some support to this supposition. 
Talvela said he regretted that his sector had been left completely inactive for the 
past several weeks even though he had repeatedly tried to get permission to resume 
the attack. He regretted the inactivity the more since the impact of his first ad- 
vance had thrown the Russians into a panic which in his opinion would have 
made it "positively easy" at that time to push to the Svir and, possibly, create a 
bridgehead across it. The entire advance to the Tuloksa River line, he said, had 
cost the VI Corps 3,500 casualties; the period of inaction since had cost as many. 
163. I.D., Kommandeur, Unterhaltung des Div.-Kdeurs. mit finnischen General 
Talvela Kdr. des VI A. K. ueber taktisches Geschehen, 2.9.41, in 163 I.D., la Anla- 
gen,BandlIl. 163 ID 1620/21. 

10 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 22.6.-31.8.41, passim. H. Gr. Nord 75128/1. 
Haider Diary, VI, pp. 249, 251, 254; VII, pp. 9, 15, 18, 33. Der Fuehrer und Oberste 
Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 441230/41, Weisung Nr. 
33, 19.7.41 and Nr. 441298/41, Weisung Nr. 34, 30.7.41. OKW/1938. 


toward Pakkola at the narrowest point of the Vuoksi River. There on 
the 18th the Finns crossed the river north of the town. Their familiarity 
with the terrain of their former territory was paying dividends; the cross- 
ing almost exactly duplicated an exercise which they had held at the 
same place during the 1939 war games. In short order they established 
a large bridgehead south of the Vuoksi from which they could strike at 
the rear of the Russian troops opposite the IV Corps on the border. At 
the same time the left flank of the II Corps, pushing south via Keksgol'm, 
cleared the river line east to Lake Ladoga. 

On 22 August the IV Corps began its offensive. The Russians had 
started blowing up their border fortifications a day earlier, and the first 
phase of the attack took the form of a pursuit in which the IV Corps 
reached the line Vilyoki-Kilpenyoki on the 23d. A simultaneous thrust 
out of the II Corps bridgehead had carried to within eight miles of 
Vyborg. The Russians, who had three divisions in the Vyborg sector, 
intended to hold the city with one division and throw the Finns back 
across the Vuoksi by a drive to Pakkola with the other two. At the river 
they hoped to make contact with another division coming south from 
Kilpola Island, but the plan could not be brought to the point of execu- 
tion as the Finns quickly and methodically set about encircling Vyborg. 
On the 25th the II Corps cut the rail line to Leningrad east of Vyborg, 
and on the same day a division crossed Vyborg Bay to take up positions 
astride the road and rail connection between Vyborg and Primorsk. 
With that the Russians in and around the city were cut off on all sides. 
On the 29th units of the IV Corps marched into Vyborg, and as the 
ring drew tighter the Russian divisions were forced into a motti in the 
forest near Porilampi. Abandoning most of their vehicles and equip- 
ment, a large group of Russians managed to break out of the encircle- 
ment and escape to the Koyvisto Islands in the Gulf of Finland, where 
they held out until November when they were evacuated. What re- 
mained of the motti was mopped up on 1 September. 

By 3 1 August units of the IV Corps had pushed south on the Isthmus 
as far as Vammelsuu. That same day they took Mansila on the old 
border, famous as the place where, according to Russian allegations, 
Finnish artillery fire had precipitated the Winter War. Oh 24 August 
Mannerheim had shifted I Corps headquarters from Sortavala to the 
left flank on the Isthmus where, with two divisions detached from the 
II Corps, it undertook to clear the Ladoga side of the Isthmus south of 
the Vuoksi. On 2 September it also reached the old border. In a four- 
week offensive the Finns had retaken their lost territory on the Isthmus 
of Karelia. 

In the Army of Karelia zone, in the last week of August, the 1 63d Divi- 
sion and Group O took Suvilakhti, and the VII Corps pushed its front 
into the narrows between Syam Lake and Shot Lake. On the Finnish 
north flank the 14th Division, operating independently, had scored a 


Finnish engineers using bangalore torpedo to demolish Russian fortifications on the 

Isthmus of Karelia. 

hrilliant success by encircling a Russian division near Reboly and before 
the end of August advanced to Rugozero where, in early September, it 
was ordered to go over to the defensive. 11 

Eastern Karelia 

In the latter half of August, with the Army Group North back in mo- 
tion and rapidly approaching Leningrad, the question of the fate of that 
city came to the fore in German planning. In the advance planning 
for Barbarossa and the occupation of Russia, Hitler, whose knowledge 
of the economic geography of the Soviet Union may have been some- 
what wanting, decided that the population of the Ukraine and southern 
Russia was worth preserving for the sake of industrial and raw materials 
production and because it could produce an agricultural surplus. The 
north imported food, and, therefore, in order to prevent its draining off 
the agricultural surplus of the south, which he intended to divert to Ger- 
many, he decided that the population there would have to be reduced 
by some millions, principally through the natural process of starvation, 
Leningrad he regarded as both a symbol of the Russian nation ( which 
he intended to destroy for all time ) and a concentration of several million 
useless mouths to feed. 

Starting from the premise that the city would in no case be occupied, 
he and his advisers in the OKW turned to the problem of how to deal 
with the city. One thought was to hem it in as closely as possible, sur- 
round it with an electrified fence and machine guns, and leave the popu- 


" Mannerheim, op. cit., pp, 446, 449, and 452ff. ErFurth, op, cit., pp. 3 Iff. and 35. 


lation to starve. Another was to let out the women and children and 
shove them across the Russian lines to create confusion behind the 
enemy's front. This was regarded as a good idea in theory but difficult 
to execute and likely not to be effective since the Russians themselves 
were insensitive to things of that sort. 

It was certain that the city would be leveled to the ground and the 
population removed. Since the Finns had expressed a desire to have 
the Neva as a boundary, all the territory north of the river would go 
to them. While awaiting a final decision on how to deal with Lenin- 
grad, the Army Group North was to encircle the city but not enter 
it and not accept a surrender if it were offered. The OKH was un- 
easy, fearing for the moral effects on its troops should they be called 
upon to slaughter unarmed civilians by the thousands. It favored a 
compromise solution which would let starvation and destruction do 
their work as far as possible within the city and then permit the last 
desperate remnants of the noncombatants to filter through the German 
lines and disperse across the countryside. 12 

To isolate Leningrad, Army Group North planned to cross the Neva 
River near Schluesselburg, make contact with the Finns, and estab- 
lish a line between the city and the western shore of Lake Ladoga. It 
intended also to push via Volkhov and join the Army of Karelia in 
the vicinity of the Svir River. It wanted the Finns to advance south 
of their old border on the Isthmus of Karelia and south of the Svir 
to meet the German spearheads. These proposals Keitel, in a letter 
written on 22 August, laid before Mannerheim. 13 

The approach drew a gloomy reply from Mannerheim. He ex- 
plained that with 16 percent of its population devoted exclusively to 
military duties Finland was having serious difficulty in maintaining 
its economy. Moreover, the casualty rate was markedly higher than 
it had been in the Winter War. During August he had abolished the 
fourth platoon in every infantry company, and in September he in- 
tended to disband a division to acquire replacements. He was most 
reluctant to consider the idea of an offensive across the old border 
on the Karelian Isthmus since he believed the pre- 1939 Russian forti- 
fications there were extremely strong and, he recommended, could 
best be taken by a German attack from the rear. On the Isthmus 
of Olonets he intended to resume his advance to the Svir but antici- 
pated strong resistance and thought that if the Svir were reached it 
would be very difficult to continue on across the river. 

In his memoirs Mannerheim maintains that he accepted command 

12 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 002119/41, Vortragsnotiz Leningrad, 21.9.41. 
OKW/1938. H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 22.6.-31.8.41, 29 Aug 41, and passim 
in succeeding volumes of the K.T.B. H. Gr. Nord 75 1 28/1 . 

13 H. G. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 22.6.-31.8.41, 22 Aug 41. H. Gr. Nord 75128/1. 
Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, Nr. 44 1418/41, WFSt, Abt. L, an 
Sr. Exzellenz, Herrn Mannerheim, 22.841, in A.O.K. Nor- 
wegen, Chefsachen 2.6.-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 


The President of Finland, Risto Ryti (w civilian clothes), inspecting an antiaircraft 

unit, 1941. 

of the Finnish Army in 1941 only on the condition that he never be 
required to lead an offensive against Leningrad. One of the earliest 
and strongest Soviet arguments against the existence of an independent 
Finland was that the second city of the Soviet Union, Leningrad, 
would thereby be threatened. He therefore believed that Finland 
should not take any action which might lend substance to that argu- 
ment, which could be revived by the Russians after the war. On 
receiving Kcitel's letter, he states, he showed it to President Ryti, re- 
minding him of the condition under which he had taken command 
and expressing the conviction that to cross the Svir would be con- 
trary to Finland's interests. Ryti agreed. 14 

In a conversation with the Finnish Acting Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. 
E. F. Hanell, Erfurth assembled some explanatory impressions and in- 
formation concerning Mannerhcim's intentions. Hancil said that Man- 
nerheim had recently been besieged by requests from the President and 

Cabinet to be careful in expending the manpower of the country. 15 

•* Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 454. OKW, WFSt, Abt. U Nr. 441451/41, Ober- 
befehhhaber Aer finnischen Wekrmackt an Herrn Generaljeldmarschall Keitel, 
26.8.41, in A. O.K. Notwegen, Chefsachtn 2.6.-18.1 1 .4! . AOK 20 20844/2. 

15 The German Minister to Finland, Wipert von Bluecher, at the time reported 
that two parties were developing within the Cabinet. One wanted to continue the 
offensives; the other, which Ryti seemed to favor, thought the time had come to 
go over to defensive warfare, wanted to stop at the old border on the Isthmus of 
Karelia, and wanted to rein in on Mannerheim' s offensive plans for Eastern Karelia. 
This proved to be merely a passing phase, and Cabinet sentiment almost immediately 
swung back, in favor of aggressive pursuit of the war, Bluecher, tel. to Foreign 
Ministry No. 866, 1.9.41. Serial 260. U.S. Department of State, German Foreign 
Ministry Records. Bluecher, op. cit., pp. 246fT. 


Leading industrialists had sounded urgent warnings that with nearly 
all the men on military duty an economic collapse was in the offing. As 
far as the offensives on either side of Lake Ladoga were concerned, the 
Finnish Constitution required the Commander in Chief to secure per- 
mission from the Government for operations beyond the national bound- 
aries. Such permission had only been given for the sector east of Lake 
Ladoga, and there only to the Svir River. But Hanell did not doubt 
that permission could also be secured for the Isthmus of Karelia if Man- 
nerheim seriously requested it. He suggested that such a request would 
be forthcoming when "the German Army rapped loudly and clearly 
on the door of Leningrad." On the matter of an offensive east of Lake 
Ladoga Mannerheim had given his word and would keep it. As far 
as the question of crossing the Svir was concerned his attitude would 
become more positive as the German armies drew closer. He appeared 
to fear that the Army Group North would stop on the Volkhov River 
and leave it to him to negotiate the entire distance between the Svir and 
the Volkhov. Erfurth thought that Mannerheim's native pessimism had 
temporarily gotten the best of him and recommended the award of a 
German decoration to aid in restoring his morale. 16 

In the German High Command Mannerheim's apparently wavering 
confidence in his ally had a disquieting effect. The OKH immediately 
instructed the Army Group North that, aside from operational consid- 
erations, German prestige demanded a junction with the Finns as early 
as possible. As soon as the situation in any way permitted, even before 
Leningrad was completely encircled, the army group was to divert forces 
in the direction of Lodeynoye Pole. 17 

At the end of August, one Army Group North division reached the 
Neva at Ivanovskoye where it cut the last rail line out of the city and 
was in a position to interdict traffic on the river. 18 On 1 September 
Mannerheim told Erfurth that he had secured permission from Ryti to 
cross the border on the west side of the Karelian Isthmus as far as the 
line Sestroretsk-Agalatovo. 19 Two days later when Keitel, at Army 
Group North headquarters, told Leeb of this decision Leeb maintained 
that a mile or two of territory more or less was not important but that 
it was absolutely essential to have the Finns tie down the Russian divi- 
sions on their front. Otherwise the Russians could pull out troops to 
throw against his own line drawing up to Leningrad, and a difficult 
situation would ensue. 20 

On 4 September the operations chief of the OKW, Jodl, flew to 
Mikkeli carrying all three classes of the Iron Cross to Mannerheim. 

15 General der Infanterie Erfurth, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L., 26.8.41, in A.O.K. 
Norwegen, Chefsachen 2.6.-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 

17 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 22.6.-31.8.41, 28 Aug 41. H. Gr. Nord 75128/1. 

18 H. Gr. Nord Kriegstagebuch, 22.6.-31.8.41, 30 Aug 41.. H. Gr. Nord 75128/1. 

19 Verbmdungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 840/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 1.9.41, in 
OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

™H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.41, 3 Sep 41. H. Gr. Nord 22506. 


The Marshal, according to the account in his memoirs, remained cool 
toward Jodl's pleading for an offensive on the Isthmus but, in order to 
avoid tension and not jeopardize the negotiations for 15,000 tons of 
grain which were then in progress, did promise to try a push off the 
right flank — which was never executed. Nevertheless, at the time, the 
Germans believed Jodl's mission was a complete success. Mannerheim 
had, in fact, promised to cross the border along the entire front on the 
Isthmus and advance up to the Russian permanent fortifications. On 
the right flank he would go as far as Sestroretsk and, if possible, Agala- 
tovo. Three weeks later he informed Keitel that he had advanced be- 
yond the border approximately to the depths promised. To some extent 
Mannerheim was temporizing. To cross the border, which zigzagged 
erratically, in itself had no particular military significance; and whether 
the mere appearance of Finnish troops before the main Russian fortifica- 
tions would tie down the enemy as effectively as the Army Group North 
desired was problematical. But these were considerations of which the 
Germans were also aware. The Jodl visit also brought the encouraging 
news that the Finnish advance to the Svir would begin that same day. 21 

On 4 September the Army of Karelia was deployed as follows : Group 
O (one cavalry brigade and one Jaeger brigade) on the left flank from 
the border to the north shore of Syam Lake with the mass of the corps 
just north of the lake; the VII C6rps~(Two divisions) in the center be- 
tween Syam Lake and Vedlo Lake east of both; the VI Corps (three 
divisions and a Jaeger brigade) on the right flank between Vedlo Lake 
and the mouth of the Tuloksa. The 163d Division was in the VI Corps 
zone but was the Commander in Chief's reserve and was used only for 
flank protection along the Ladoga shore. 22 

The offensive began on the night of the 4th with an artillery barrage, 
the heaviest staged by the Finns thus far in the war, which paved the 
way for a VI Corps breakthrough on the Tuloksa Line. Within three 
days the VI Corps reached the Svir opposite Lodeynoye Pole, and on 
the 8th the Jaeger brigade cut the Murmansk Railroad at Svir Station. 
On the same day the VII Corps took the important road junction at 
Krasnaya Pryazha. By the middle of the month the Army of Karelia 
had possession of the entire length of the Svir and was developing a con- 
verging attack on Petrozavodsk, the capital of the KareJo-Finnish SSR. 

While the 1st Jaeger Brigade approached the city from the south 
along the Murmansk Railroad the VII Corps sent one division on a dar- 
ing and strenuous march through the forests between the railroad and 
the Pryazha-Petrozavodsk road and a second column along the road. 

21 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 455. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 36ff. Verbindungsstab Nord, 
la, Nr. 84/41, Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht an Herrn Generalfeldmarschall 
Keitel, 25.9.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Chefsachen 2.6.-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 
Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 871/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 4.9.41, in OKH, 
Gen StdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

22 Verbindungsstab Nord, Lage am 4.9. Vormittags. Map, uncatalogued. 


Group O, aided later by the II Corps transferred from the Isthmus of 
Karelia, pressed in from the northwest. After two weeks of fighting, the 
city fell on 1 October. The Russians had withdrawn across Lake Onega. 
The VI Corps had in the meantime crossed the Svir at its Lake Onega 
end, creating a bridgehead about 12 miles deep and 60 miles wide in 
order to gain better defensive positions. Despite the signs of a very early 
winter — which was to have fateful consequences for the German armies 
in the south — Mannerheim decided to strike northward from Petroza- 
vodsk toward Medvezh'yegorsk. 23 

In September, while the Army of Karelia was establishing itself on 
the Svir, the Army Group North was engaged in the vicinity of Lenin- 
grad. In the first week of the month it had a spearhead on the Neva at 
Ivanovskoye, but from there the front on the left dipped sharply south 
of Leningrad, touching the Gulf of Finland west of Oranienbaum; on 
the right it dropped off southeast to the Volkhov River and thence south. 
On 6 September Hitler decided that the time had come to resume the 
drive on Moscow. The Army Group North would lose the Fourth 
Panzer Group and have to close in on Leningrad as best it could; its 
only remaining larger mechanized unit, the XXXIX Corps, was ear- 
marked for a push across the Volkhov toward the Svir. 

On the 8th Schluesselburg fell, giving the army group control of the 
upper reaches of the Neva to Lake Ladoga. Leeb had already protested 
that to send the XXXIX Corps east of the Volkhov would be a dissipa- 
tion of strength; and on the 10th the OKH ordered him to advance 
across the Neva west of Leningrad and make contact with the Finns on 
the Isthmus of Karelia, leaving the Volkhov-Svir operation in abeyance 
until more troops became available. That solution quickly proved il- 
lusory as the Russians staged strong counterattacks at Schluesselburg 
and along the Svir. On the 15th Leeb reported to the OKH that the 
enemy was drawing troops off the Finnish front to throw against the 
Army Group North. If the Finns were to reopen their offensive on the 
Isthmus, he said, the battle of Leningrad could be decided in a few 
days. Otherwise, the time when a crossing of the Neva might be under- 
taken could not even be predicted. Three days later, in response to a 
second call for Finnish help, Haider assured Leeb that the Finnish High 
Command intended to resume its attacks on both sides of Lake Ladoga — 
on the Isthmus as soon as the Army Group North crossed the Neva and 
south of the Svir as soon as the effects of a German drive in that direc- 
tion became perceptible. 24 

In the middle of the month Keitel took up his correspondence with 
Mannerheim again, asking the Marshal to station the 163d Division 
near the mouth of the Svir and permit it, when the time came, to cross 

23 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 458ff. and 461. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 37ff. 

2i H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.9.41, 6-10, 15, and 18 Sep 41. H. Gr. 
Nord 22506. Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFSt, 
Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 441492/41, Weisung Nr. 35, 6.9.41. OKW/1938. 


the river and advance to meet the projected thrust of the Army Group 
North. 23 Mannerheim agreed, although he later insisted that the timing 
of the jump-off be his. The question of the Finns' own intentions had 
remained unanswered since the Jodl visit, and, although Keitel did not 
revert to it directly, Mannerheim undertook to clear the air in a long 
letter written on 25 September. His practiced eye had probably detected 
the doubtful elements in the Army Group North situation, even though 
the Germans, as he said later, had not informed him of their decision 
to pull out the Fourth Panzer Group. Moreover, Keitel's communica- 
tion was hardly calculated to inspire confidence since it dealt mainly with 
explanations for the failures of the Army of Norway and suggested that 
the Army Group North, for the time being, would not be able to mount 
offensives either across the Neva or in the direction of the Svir. 26 The 
Marshall informed Keitel of his intention to take Petrozavodsk and 
Medvezh'yegorsk, After that his chief concern would be to alleviate 
the nation's serious manpower problem by reorganizing the Army, con- 
verting the divisions into brigades, and returning the surplus men to 
the civilian economy. He refused to consider advancing beyond his 
existing lines on the Svir and the Isthmus of Karelia. 27 

At the end of September, although Russian counterattacks continued 
heavy, the Army Group North managed to stabilize its front east of 
Leningrad. In the first week of October, when the successes of the Army 
Group Center made it appear that the enemy would be forced to pull 
out troops in the north for the defense of Moscow, Leeb began taking 
the XXXIX Corps (two panzer and two motorized divisions) out of 
the line near Schluesselburg and readying it for a thrust to the east. On 
14 October, though there was still no sign that the Russians were reduc- 
ing their forces opposite the army group, Hitler ordered Leeb to attack 
eastward via Chudovo and Tikhvin with the objective of enveloping the 
Russians south of Lake Ladoga and making contact with the Army of 
Karelia along the line Tikhvin— Lodeynoye Pole. 

Two days later the XXXIX Corps headed eastward from Chudovo. 
The Russians offered strong resistance, and after the first two or three 
days the fall rains overtook the operation. Before the end of the first 
week the panzer divisions were leaving their tanks behind, bogged down 
on muddy roads. On 24 October Hitler wanted to cancel the operation, 

2 " The idea of using the 163d Division had come earlier in the month from 
Erfurth, who seeing Mannerheim's growing reluctance to consider crossing the Svir 
thought a thrust by the German division might draw the Finns after it. V'erbindungs- 
stab Nord, la, Nr 836/41 and Nr. 69/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 31.8.41 and 
15.9.41, in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

M OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (/ Op.), Nr. 002046/41, Abschrift von Fernschreiben Chef 
OKW an Feldmarschall Mannerheim, 14.9.41 and Der Chef des Oberkommandos der 
Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L, Nr. 441 580/41 , an den Oberbefehlshaber der finnischen 
Wehrmacht Feldmarschall Mannerheim, 22.9.41 , in A.O.K. Norwegen, Chefsachen 
2.6.-18.11.41. AOK 20 20844/2. Mannerheim, op. ext., p. 457. 

Verbindgungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 84/41 , Oberbefehlshaber der finnischen Wehr- 
macht an Herrn Generalfeldmarschall Keitel, 25.9.41 , in A.O.K. Norwegen, Chefsa- 
chen 2.6.-18.1 1 .41 . AOK 20 20844/2. 


and only the efforts of the OKH kept him from issuing such an order. 
Called to Fuehrer Headquarters Leeb spoke in favor of going ahead but 
did not himself believe it would be possible to do more than take 
Tikhvin. 28 

After two more weeks, during which it inched forward to within six 
miles of Tikhvin, the XXXIX Corps on 8 November planned a final 
quick thrust to the city. If it failed the operation was to be halted 
until conditions improved. It succeeded, and on the 9th one division 
could be turned northwestward from Tikhvin along the railroad toward 
Volkhov. At the end of the month, however, the Russians had nearly 
encircled the Germans at Tikhvin, and it became necessary to throw 
in two additional divisions to hold the flanks of the salient. 29 

On 1 December in assessing its situation the Army Group North con- 
cluded that the question of a junction with the Finns could not be 
taken under consideration for the present. Whether or not Tikhvin 
could be held depended on the enemy's ability to bring up more troops ; 
the advance toward Volkhov would have to be stopped for lack of 
forces. Two days later the Commanding General, XXXIX Corps, re- 
ported that he could not hold Tikhvin much longer, and on the 7th 
Leeb ordered him to prepare to withdraw as soon as Hitler gave per- 
mission. At the same time both Haider and Keitel called to warn 
against a withdrawal — Hitler was determined to hold Tikhvin. Keitel 
claimed that the Finns were prepared to establish contact from their 
side. In his order of the 8th stopping offensive operations on the East- 
ern Front Hitler instructed the Army Group North to hold at Tikhvin 
and be ready to mop up south of Lake Ladoga and meet the Army of 
Karelia as soon as reinforcements could be brought up. Three days 
later he postponed further offensive operations until 1942. 30 

At the front events were overruling Hitler even before his orders could 
be issued. On the 7th Leeb intended to order the evacuation of Tikhvin, 
where the XXXIX Corps was fighting in driving snow and below zero 
temperatures, but was asked to hold up his order until Keitel and Jodl, 
closeted with Hitler, could secure a decision. Reluctantly, Hitler agreed, 
insisting that the road and railroad out of the city to Volkhov and Len- 
ingrad continue to be held. On the 9th Tikhvin was evacuated. Leeb 
saw no solution other than to pull back behind the Volkhov. For six 
more days Hitler insisted on holding as far forward as possible. Not 
until the 15th, after Leeb told him complete destruction of the XXXIX 
Corps was the sole alternative, did he agree to a withdrawal behind 
the river. By the 24th the Army Group North had its troops back be- 

28 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.10.41, passim. H. Gr. Nord 22927. 

29 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-30.11.41, passim. H. Gr. Nord 75128/3a. 

50 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (Ia), Nr. 1693/41, Weisung fuer die Aufgaben des 
Ostheeres im Winter 1941/42, 8.12.41 and Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber 
der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. (I Op.), Nr. 442090/41, Weisung Nr. 39, 
8.12.41. OKW/1938. H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.12.41, 1-7 Dec 41. 
H. Gr. Nord 75128/4a. 


hind the Volkhov, where Hitler ordered the line held "to the last man." 31 
On the day before the Army Group North gave up Tikhvin the 
Army of Karelia completed its operations in Eastern Karelia. The 
weather had also acted as a brake on Finnish operations. In October, 
advancing from the south and west, the Army of Karelia pushed the 
Russians back toward Medvezh'yegorsk. On 19 October the II Corps 
cleared the line of the Suna River. On 3 November the attack force 
coming from the south took Kondoponga, and two days later the 
two forces met north of Lizhm Lake. Then the onslaught of winter 
slowed the advance, and at mid-November it appeared that the troops' 
offensive strength was exhausted. In a last, almost desperate, push 
the Finns took Medvezh'yegorsk on 5 December, Povenets the fol- 
lowing day, and on the 8th cleaned out a large motti south of Med- 
vezh'yegorsk. They then established a defensive line on the Maaselka, 
the drainage divide between the White Sea and the Gulf of Finland 
running across the narrows between the northern tip of Lake Onega and 
Seg Lake. With that, active operations ceased all along the Finnish 
front, and Mannerheim began releasing the older age groups in the 
Army. 32 

Cobelligerents and Brothers-in-Arms 

The German-Russian conflict was a fight to the death between 
Hitler and Stalin, two of the outstanding international villains of all 
time. Geography and the proved rapacity of the Soviet Government 
forced Finland to regard one of them as her savior at exactly the time 
that her traditional friends in the West, Great Britain and the United 
States, were trying to keep the other on his feet. The situation might 
have been less painful had Finland not accumulated a great fund of 
sympathy in the West during the Winter War and had it not been 
able to show a large amount of justice in its cause against the Soviet 
Union. To save what they could of their credit with the democra- 
cies, to avoid falling completely under the influence of Germany, and 
yet to preserve their existence as a nation, the Finns were forced to 
equivocate, claiming for themselves an exceptional status as cobelliger- 
ents and speaking of their German friends as brothers-in-arms rather 
than allies. These semantic distinctions, which on the surface only 
created a somewhat ludicrous picture of tiny Finland fighting the Soviet 
Union and professing itself mildly surprised to find the Germans there 
too, in fact were evidence of forces which were to influence Finland's 
entire conduct of war. It must be said to the credit of the Germans 
that it was mainly their unusual and, for themselves, unprofitable re- 

31 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1.-31.41, 7-24 Dec 41. H. Gr. Nord 75128/4a. 
Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L (J Op.), Nr. 
442182/41, 16.12.41. OKW/1938. 

32 On 3 December the Russians had evacuated Hanko. Mannerheim, op. cit., 
pp. 461, 466. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 38-40. 


straint which allowed the Finns to play an independent game to the 
extent that they did. 

The true expectations with which the Finns entered the war are dif- 
ficult to determine. As a small nation caught in the center of a great 
struggle they could not afford the luxury of consistency any more than 
could the Great Powers. Their announced war aims were limited to 
recovery of the lost territories; that they expected to take a good deal 
more is certain. Bellicose utterances by Mannerheim and others, par- 
ticularly during the early months of the war, are not hard to find. 33 The 
most extreme statement of Finnish war aims was that which Ryti gave 
to Hitler's personal envoy Schnurre in October 1941: Finland wanted 
the entire Kola Peninsula and all of Soviet Karelia with a border on the 
White Sea to the Gulf of Onega, thence southward to the southern tip of 
Lake Onega, along the Svir River, the south shore of Lake Ladoga, and 
along the Neva River to its mouth. Ryti agreed with the Germans that 
Leningrad would have to disappear as a center of population and indus- 
try. He thought a small part of the city might be preserved as some- 
thing in the nature of a German trading post. 3 * Later he also told the 
German Minister that Finland did not want to have a common border 
with Russia in the future and asked that Germany annex all the terri- 
tory from the Arkhangel'sk region south. 35 

Still, even in the heady, victorious months of 1941, a realistic ap- 
praisal of its own strength and a deep-seated popular conviction that 
Finland should not allow itself to be drawn into a war against the de- 
mocracies to some extent restrained Finnish ambitions. 36 To these were 
added recurring qualms occasioned by distaste for the Nazi-German 
Government and lingering suspicions concerning its ultimate intentions 
with regard to Finland. The element of indecision in Finnish policy 
was heightened by knowledge of the fact that neither Great Britain nor 

33 On 3 June 1941 Heinrichs gave the German military representatives a pro 
memoria which opened as follows: 

"The Commander in Chief wishes to take this opportunity to say that the interest 
called forth by these discussions is in no way purely operational or military-technical 
ia nature. 

"The idea [destruction of the Soviet Union] which forms the basis of the proposi- 
tions communicated to him by the highest echelons of the German leadership must 
arouse joy in the Finnish soldier's heart and is regarded here as a historic sign of a 
great future." Heinrichs added orally that "for the first and probably the last time 
in Finland's thousand-year history the great moment has come in which the Finnish 
Deople can free itself for all time from the pressure of its hereditary enemy." A. O.K. 
Norwegen der Chef des Generalstabes, Nr. 140/41, Ergebnis der deutsch-finnischen 
Besprechungen in Helsinki, 3.-5.6.41, in "Silberfuchs" Ed. II, 4.5.41-18.6.41. AOK 
20 20844/5. Fremde Heere Ost, Chef, Nr. 74/41, Protokoll ueber die Besprechungen 
in Finnland vom 3.-6. Juni 1941, 10.6.41, in Chefsachen Fremde Heere Ost, Bd. I. 
H 3/1. See also Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, p. 827. 

34 Schnurre, Aufzeichnung, 31.10.41. Serial 260. U.S. Department of State, Ger- 
man Foreign Ministry Records. 

35 Bluecher, Tel. to Foreign Office, 11.9.41. Serial 260. U.S. Department of 
State, German Foreign Ministry Records. 

3a Bluecher, Tel. to Foreign Ministry, Nr. 659, 22.7.41. Serial 260. U.S. De- 
partment of State, German Foreign Ministry Records. 


the United States was entirely comfortable in its new-found friendship 
with Stalin. 

The first clear-cut crisis in relations with the West came in July 1941 
after Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister, on the 9th demanded 
that Finland break diplomatic relations with Great Britain. 37 The Ger- 
mans contended that the 53-man British mission in Helsinki was acting 
as an intelligence center for the Soviet Union. Although the British no 
doubt intended to use their Helsinki Ministry to the benefit of the Rus- 
sians as far as they could, Ribbentrop's demand can probably be traced 
more directly to Hitler's determination to prevent even token demonstra- 
tions of British-Soviet collaboration. Its immediate motivation is to be 
found in Stalin's reference to British and American aid in his 3 July 
speech and in the negotiations which were to produce the British-Soviet 
Agreement of 1 2 July 1 94 1 . 3S 

The Finns, who were counting on a short war and obviously hoped to 
avoid crucial diplomatic developments, tried to delay their decision but 
were forced by repeated German urgings to inform the German Min- 
ister on 22 July that the Cabinet had empowered the Foreign Minister 
"to carry the matter with England as far as a breach of diplomatic rela- 
tions." 39 The Finnish Government still wanted the decisive move to 
come from the British side, but the British betrayed no such inclination ; 
consequently, on 28 July Finland declared its intention to close its lega- 
tion in London "until further notice" and asked what the British 
intended to do. The question was decided three days later when British 
carrier aircraft bombed Pechenga : Finland promptly withdrew its mis- 
sion, and the British were forced to do the same. 40 

The United States State Department, in the meantime, had adopted 
a waiting attitude, to some extent based on the hope that Finland, as 
its official statements seemed to indicate, would not carry the war beyond 
its old borders. In mid-August the Soviet Union, anxious to reduce the 
forces committed against Finland, authorized the State Department to 
inform Finland of its willingness to make peace, with territorial conces- 
sions. On 18 August Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles com- 
municated the offer to the Finnish Minister in Washington in fairly 
explicit terms, but Helsinki made no reply. 41 

Enraged at his peace offer's having been ignored, Stalin began de- 
manding that Britain either stop the Finns or declare war. Under this 
pressure the British Government on 22 September warned Finland 

3T Ribbentrop, Tel. to German Ministry, Helsinki, No. 630, 9.7.41. Serial 260. 
U.S. Department of State, German Foreign Ministry Records. 

38 Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, pp. 535ff. Bluecher, op. cit., 
p. 236. 

39 Bluecher, Tel. to Foreign Ministry, No. 659, 22.7.41. Serial 260. U.S. Depart- 
ment of State, German Foreign Ministry Records. 

"Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, 551. Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 451. 

a Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, pp. 550 and 826ff. Documents on 
American Foreign Relations (Boston: World Peace Foundation, 1942), Vol. IV, 
p. 642. 


through the Norwegian Legation in Helsinki against invading purely 
Russian territory. 42 On 3 October Secretary of State Cordell Hull, to 
reinforce the British warning, told the Finnish Minister that although 
the United States was glad to see Finland recover her lost territory the 
important question was whether Finland would be content to stop there. 43 

As the German advance on Moscow progressed during October, the 
United States State Department became more and more worried about 
the Murmansk supply route and at the end of the month decided to take 
a forceful step. The note of 27 October has already been cited above 
in its relation to Falkenhorst's last attempt to take Loukhi. The inten- 
tion had been to issue a pointed warning; but, through a mistake in 
transmission, an earlier, stronger version of the note, virtually demand- 
ing that Finland end hostilities and pull back to the 1939 border, was 
sent. While the Finnish Government delayed its reply, the State De- 
partment in early November published its records of the August peace 
offer. In a long note on 1 1 November the Finnish Government reca- 
pitulated its grievances against the Soviet Union, characterized the peace 
offer as neither "an offer of mediation, or even ... a recommendation, 
on the part of the United States, but . . . merely a piece of informa- 
tion," and refused to enter into "any engagements that would . . . 
imperil . . . her national security by artificial suspension or annulment 
of fully justified military operations." 44 

The American moves begun by the 27 October note, aside from their 
possible effect on the last German attempt to cut the Murmansk Railroad, 
did succeed in muddying the water of German-Finnish relations some- 
what. The Finns had been slow in informing their German friends of 
the August peace move and had apparently never given them a very 
complete version. In any case, publication of the record automatically 
brought the solidity of the German-Finnish cooperation into question. 
Germany immediately began urging Finland to become a signatory of 
the Anti-Comintern Pact which was to be renewed at the end of 

While adherence to the Anti-Comintern Pact, which as the Finns fre- 
quently pointed out later had been in force throughout the period of the 
German-Soviet alliance, would not bring a real change in Finland's 
relationship to Germany, both the Finns and Germans were aware that 
it could significantly influence the nation's already delicate relations with 
the Western Powers; but Finland was in no position to refuse. Aside 
from the matter of the peace move, relations with Germany had soured 
slightly over Finnish resistance to German attempts at getting control 

42 In another of the peculiarities of the German-Finnish relationship Finland' main- 
tained diplomatic relations with the exiled government of Norway and, in fact, more 
than once let its displeasure with the German conduct of affairs in occupied Norway 
be known. 

43 Documents on American Foreign Relations, Vol. IV, p. 643. 

44 Documents on American Foreign Relations, Vol. IV, pp. 642—51. Langer and 
Gleason, The Undeclared War, pp. 830-33. 


of the Pechenga nickel concession for I. G. Farben. 45 Moreover, Fin- 
land had been forced at the end of October to ask Germany for 175,000 
tons of grain to tide its population over the winter and for 100 to 150 
locomotives and 4,000 to 8,000 railroad cars to keep its transportation 
system operating. The Finnish railroads, which had a low hauling ca- 
pacity to start with, had deteriorated rapidly after the outbreak of war 
and by November 1941 were on the verge of a complete breakdown. 
Since the transportation crisis also endangered the Army of Norway, the 
request, while it demonstrated Finland's dependence on Germany, was 
not one the Germans could use as a bargaining point. On 2 1 Novem- 
ber Keitel promised to ship 55 locomotives and 900 cars immediately. 
He could not promise more until overland contact had been established 
between the German and Finnish armies. 46 

Unable to avoid signing the Anti- Comintern Pact, the Finns naturally 
desired to have the event go off as unobtrusively as possible; but the 
Germans would be satisfied with nothing less than having Foreign Min- 
ister Witting come to Berlin in person. The Finns' worst fears were 
realized the moment Witting stepped off his plane at Tempelhof Airport 
almost literally into the arms of a fully uniformed Ribbentrop backed 
up by a battalion of assorted dignitaries. On the following day (25 
November ) , after Witting signed the pact in company with the Italian 
Foreign Minister and the Japanese Ambassador, Ribbentrop gave him 
the full guest-of-honor treatment. That evening his colleagues in Hel- 
sinki were on the phone trying to get him home posthaste, but his de- 
parture was delayed another two days as he waited for an audience with 
Hitler. On the 2 7th, after one of Hitler's hour-long, rambling harangues, 
he emplaned for Helsinki. Hitler had promised him the Kola Peninsula 
and the desired border. He had assured him that Germany would pro- 
vide the grain requested and had again raised the question of Finland's 
mineral resources, particularly nickel, in the exploitation of which, he 
said, Germany wanted to participate. 47 On 19 December Germany 
agreed to furnish 75,000 tons of grain before the end of February 1942 
and a total of 260,000 tons before the next harvest. 48 

45 Hitler's representative, Schnurre, had proposed that the control of Nikkeli O. Y. 
be 80 percent German and 20 percent Finnish. The Finns,- who in view of the origi- 
nal Canadian-British concession and the Russian claims wanted to keep the question 
of ownership open until after the war, had taken the course of indirect resistance, 
complaining to Falkenhorst and emphasizing the necessity of not endangering the 
wartime production of ore. V.O., Wi Rue Amt, A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finn- 
land, an OKW, Wi Rue Amt, Stab la, 6.11.41 and V.O., WI Rue Amt, A.O.K. Nor- 
wegen, Bef. St. Finnland, an OKW Wi Rue Amt, la, 9.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, 
Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

46 AOK Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, Nr. 101/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 
4.11.41, in AOK Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/2. 
Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, Nr. 441979/41 , WFSt, Abt. L, 
(I Op.), an Se. Exzellenz Generalfeldmarschall Freiherr von Mannerheim, 21.11.41, 
in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

47 Bluecher, op. cit., pp. 260-62. 

4S Dir. Ha. Pol., Aufzeichnung, No. 226, 19.12.41. Serial 1260. U.S. Depart- 
ment of State. German Foreign Ministry Records. 


Arriving in Helsinki on 28 November, Witting found himself con- 
fronted with a British ultimatum. Through the United States Legation 
the British Government informed the Finns that it would be obliged to 
declare war, "unless by December 5 the Finnish Government cease mili- 
tary operations and withdraw from all active participation in hostili- 
ties." 49 The British note was in one sense less stringent than that of 22 
September: it did not insist on Finland's giving up territory already 
taken. A day later in a private letter to Mannerheim, Churchill sug- 
gested that it would be sufficient if Finland quietly ceased operations and 
held what she had. 50 The British move was not prompted by Witting' s 
recent activity in Berlin but, rather, was a direct — and somewhat em- 
barassed — response to demands from Stalin which could no longer be 
sidestepped. The Finnish reply was not sent until after Great Britain 
had declared war on 6 December. It only expressed surprise that the 
British could find anything in Finland's attitude which would give them 
cause to declare war. 51 For the Finnish people the blow was softened by 
an announcement on the same day that their troops had taken Medvezh'- 
yegorsk and that the Parliament had formally annexed the reconquered 
territories. 52 

A Thrust to Belomorsk 

On 25 September, at the same time that he refused to carry farther 
the Finnish offensives on the Svir and the Isthmus of Karelia, Manner- 
heim laid before the OKW a proposal for a winter offensive directed 
against Belomorsk. 53 He thought that after Leningrad had fallen he 
would be able to spare eight or nine brigades for such an operation. He 
also suggested that the German and Finnish troops of the III Corps and 
the XXXVI Corps be exchanged and the advances toward Kandalaksha 
and Loukhi then continued. 54 

Hitler's headquarters took up Mannerheim's proposal immediately. 
It was the more welcome in that it seemed to offer a fresh start for the 
nearly moribund operation against the Murmansk Railroad. In the 
Fuehrer Directive No. 37, closing down the Army of Norway summer 
offensive, Hitler simultaneously ordered Falkenhorst to prepare a winter 
drive to Kandalaksha in conjunction with a Finnish advance to Belomorsk 
and, possibly, to Loukhi. Keitel on 13 October informed Mannerheim 
that the directive had been issued. The attacks on Belomorsk and 

49 Documents on American Foreign Relations, Vol. IV, p. 640. 

50 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 463ff. 

51 Documents on American Foreign Policy, Vol. IV, pp. 641ff. 
a2 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 465. 

53 That the Belomorsk— Obozerskaya bypass, carrying Murmansk Railroad traffic 
eastward to Moscow, was in operation did not become known to the Germans and 
Finns until after the start of operations in Russia. Its existence greatly reduced the 
strategic importance of the Finns' cutting the Belomorsk— Leningrad section of the 

54 Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 84/41, Oberbefehlshaber der finnischen Wehr- 
macht an Herrn Generalfeldmarschall Keitel, 25.9.41, in A. O.K. Norwegen, la, 
Chef sachen,2. 6.-18.1 1.41. AOK 20 20844/2. 


Loukhi would be the responsibility of the Finnish command, and Fal- 
kenhorst would direct the advance to Kandalaksha. 55 

Army of Norway headquarters received the idea of a winter offensive 
without enthusiasm. The army reported that operations against Kanda- 
laksha in winter using the ordinary infantry divisions of the XXXVI 
Corps, which had almost no trained skiers, were hardly possible. In 
fact, if the line on the Verman River were to be held, the XXXVI 
Corps would have to keep at least two regiments of the Finnish 6th 
Division as mobile protection for its flanks. 56 Falkenhorst insisted that 
for a winter operation against Kandalaksha he would need at least two 
mountain divisions and one or two Finnish brigades since he did not 
believe he could employ the existing divisions of the XXXVI Corps as 
anything more than reserves. To meet Falkenhorst's demands, the 
OKW offered him the 5 th and 7th Mountain Divisions — the former was 
in Crete and the latter was yet to be formed in Germany out of a stand- 
ard infantry division — and transmitted a request to Mannerheim for two 
Finnish brigades. The XXXVI Corps was immediately redesignated 
the XXXVI Mountain Corps. Its divisions were to be retrained in 
mountain and winter warfare on the spot. 57 

In mid-November the Army of Norway learned that because of the 
Finnish railroad situation not more than one of the new mountain divi- 
sions could be brought in, and that not before the end of March. Since 1 
March was regarded as the latest starting date if the spring thaw were 
to be avoided, Falkenhorst reported, "It can be said with certainty that 
the planned operation against Kandalaksha cannot be executed during 
the winter." 58 The OKW, no longer placing much confidence in Fal- 
kenhorst, ordered Dietl as the future commanding general to make a 
personal reconnaissance and report directly to Fuehrer Headquarters. 
On 24 November Dietl telegraphed ahead to Jodl that he concurred 
with the Army of Norway in regarding the planned attack as impossible 
to execute because of the transportation and supply problems. In any 
case, as an experienced officer of mountain troops, he had serious doubts 
about using troops that were not completely trained and acclimated for 
winter warfare in the Arctic. 59 As an alternative the Army of Norway 
proposed a combined German-Finnish advance to Belomorsk and thence 

55 Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFSt, Abt. L 
(J Op.), Nr. 441696/41, Weisung Nr. 37, 10.10, 41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen 
zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. Der Chef des Oberkommandos der 
Wehrmacht, WFSt, Abt. L, Nr. 441707/41, 13.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, la. 
Chefsachen, 2.6.-18. 11. 41. AOK 20 20844/2. 

56 A.O.K. Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 86/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L, 
13.10.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B. Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

57 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L (I Op.), Nr. 441861/41, Durchfuehrungsbestimmungen 
Nr. 1 zur Weisung Nr. 37, 7.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B. , 
Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

m A.O.K., Norwegen, Bef. St. Finnland, la, Nr. 2382/41, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. 
L, 21.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

58 Tel. Dietl to Jodl [no heading or title], 24.11.41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen 
zum K.T.B., Band II. AOK 20 19070/3. 


eastward along the railroad to Obozerskaya, thereby cutting off both 
Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. 80 

In the meantime, the OKW was waiting for Mannerheim's answer to 
a Keitel letter of 2 1 November outlining the German plans. Writing on 
4 December, after an illness had forced him to put off his reply, Manner- 
heim characterized the early cutting of the Murmansk Railroad as a 
matter of greatest importance. But his proposal of September, he 
pointed out, had been predicated on the assumption that Leningrad 
would fall and contact would be established on the Svir in a matter of a 
few weeks. Since then more than two months had passed; the condition 
of his troops had deteriorated, and the war was creating internal diffi- 
culties for Finland. The attack on Kandalaksha, he believed, would 
have to begin on 1 March at the latest. "If the situation in any way 
permitted," Finnish troops would begin an advance toward Belomorsk 
at the same time. 61 Erfurth interpreted the Mannerheim letter as, at 
least in part, an attempt to speed up the German efforts at achieving 
a junction on the Isthmus of Karelia and the Svir. In a conversation 
he had with the Marshal at the end of November the latter had said 
that the Murmansk Railroad would have to be taken during the winter — 
and the sooner the better. Erfurth believed the Finns were still genu- 
inely anxious to get the railroad into their and German hands in the 
hope that it would then disappear as a political problem between them 
and the Western Powers. 62 

On 14 December, following a staff conference at Finnish Headquar- 
ters, Mannerheim and Falkenhorst met at Rovaniemi. Because of the 
railroad situation, which he described as catastrophic, and other diffi- 
culties, Mannerheim took a dim view of the prospects of a Kandalaksha 
operation — so dim, according to Falkenhorst, that he was unwilling to 
risk Finnish troops in the operation. Nevertheless, Mannerheim stated, 
the declarations of war by Great Britain and the United States (the latter 
against Germany but not Finland) had given the Murmansk Railroad 
greatly increased significance, and it would have to be cut. He thought 
Belomorsk was the key point and proposed a converging attack from 
the south and west by combined German and Finnish forces. The OKW 
promptly accepted the new Mannerheim proposal and offered him the 
7th Mountain Division for the operation. 63 

60 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 26 Nov 41. 

61 Oberbefehlshaber der finnischen Weh.rma.cht an Herrn Generalfeldmarschall 
Keitel, 4.12.41, in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

82 It is worth noting with reference to the criticisms leveled at Falkenhorst's con- 
duct of the summer operations that at this time both Mannerheim and Erfurth be- 
lieved that attacks would have to be launched simultaneously not only at Belomorsk 
and Kandalaksha but across the Litsa toward Murmansk as well in order to prevent 
the Russians from exploiting the tactical advantages of the Murmansk Railroad. 
Der Kommandeur Verbindungsstab Nord, an OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., 25.11.41 
and Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 119/41, an OKH, Op. Abt., 5.12.41, in OKH, 
GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

03 A.O.K. Norwegen, K.T.B., 13, 14, 16 and 20 Dec 41. Verbindungsstab Nord, 
la, an OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., 15.12.41 in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band 
II, Finnland. H 22/227. 


It was not long before Mannerheim, watching the Soviet winter 
offensive develop, had changed his mind. On 20 January 1942 Erfurth 
reported that the question of a Belomorsk operation was completely up 
in the air and Mannerheim would not make a positive decision unless 
the situation on the German front, particularly in the Leningrad area, 
improved. Erfurth could only recommend that all possible means of 
persuasion be brought to bear on the Marshal. Mannerheim' s officers, 
he thought, were less pessimistic, but none of them had any influence. 64 
In response Keitel wrote to Mannerheim, telling him that the Russians 
were wearing themselves out in their attacks on the German front and 
before spring would have no more reserves. "This," he told the Marshal, 
"can be expected also to help your intended operation in the direction 
of Sorokka [Belomorsk]." 65 

In the first week of February Died, by then the commanding general 
of the newly constituted Army of Lapland, discussed the Belomorsk 
operation with Mannerheim. Mannerheim avoided a direct refusal, 
repeatedly stating that things would be different if the Germans were to 
take Leningrad, but left no doubt that in the existing situation he would 
not stage a winter offensive. Erfurth, who reported on the conference 
to the OKW, concluded that, in addition to his negative assessment of 
the military situation, Mannerheim was influenced by the internal poli- 
tics of Finland. He and Ryti had for months promised the people that 
the end was in sight and that only a small additional effort would be 
needed. An offensive against Belomorsk would far exceed what the 
population had been led to expect. Above all, Mannerheim could not 
undertake such an operation if it were possible that he might be dealt a 
setback. 66 

On 3 February Mannerheim answered Keitel's letter saying that, if 
the general situation did not take a favorable turn soon, he doubted 
whether he would be able to make troops available for a winter operation 
against Belomorsk, but he would not give up the idea. 67 Erfurth com- 
mented that by a "favorable turn" Mannerheim meant that Leningrad 
would have to be taken before he would undertake any further offensive 
operations. He needed the fall of Leningrad in order to make troops 
available and for the sake of morale at home; moreover, recently, as 
inquiries from the Finnish Chief of Staff revealed, he had become 
worried that the German spring offensive would be concentrated in the 
Ukraine and the northern sector of the Eastern Front would be left to 

64 Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 13/41, nachr. OKH, Chef des GenStdH, 20.1.41, 
in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

°° Der Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, Nr. 55208/42, an den Ober- 
befehlshaber der finnischen Wehrmacht Herrn Freiherr Mannerheim, 
26.1.42, in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finland. H 22/227. 

6J Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 20/42, an OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. 2.2.42, in OKH, 
GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 

07 Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 24/42, an OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., 3.2.41, 
in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 


languish. As far as Mannerheim's keeping the Belomorsk operation in 
mind was concerned, Erfurth believed it was merely intended to give 
his letter a courteous tone and could not be taken as a promise either 
for the present or the future. 68 

68 Verbindungsstab Nord, la, Nr. 25/42, an OKH, Op. Abt., 9.2.42, in OKH, 
GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. 


Chapter 11 
The Northern Theater in 1942 


Falkenhorst Returns to Norway 

On 14 January 1942 the Army of Lapland formally assumed com- 
mand of the German forces in Finland. Falkenhorst had been ordered 
to Oslo two weeks earlier. During the last weeks of 1941 Norway had 
suddenly moved back into the forefront of German strategic considera- 
tions. In his first order implementing Fuehrer Directive No. 37 Hitler, 
who always regarded Norway as the apple of his eye, had projected a 
sizable strengthening of the fortifications and forces there; but his deci- 
sion at that time to establish separate commands in Norway and Finland 
stemmed more directly from disappointment with the outcome of Oper- 
ation Silberfughs. 1 The United States entry into the war brought 
what had been fairly vague apprehensions, mostly on Hitler's part, into 
sharp focus. 

On 25 December the OKW, citing information which indicated that 
Great Britain and the United States were planning a major operation 
in the Scandinavian area, ordered an immediate reevaluation of the 
situation in Norway to determine whether a large-scale invasion could be 
beaten off. Falkenhorst's estimate was negative. He asked for 12,000 
replacements to bring his divisions up to strength and approximately 
three additional divisions to give the defense depth. 2 

At that moment the British Navy, as it had earlier in the year, un- 
wittingly took a hand in the German considerations. On the morning 
of 27 December a cruiser and destroyer force shelled and staged brief 
landings on Vest-Vagoy, in the Lofotens, and Maloy, at the mouth of 
Nord Fiord south of Trondheim. 3 While the landings appeared to be 

1 OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. (I Op.), Nr. 441861/41, Durchfuehrungsbestimmungen 
Nr. 1 zur Weisdng 37, 7.11.41, in A. O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band 
II. AOK 20 19070/3. 

"OKW, WFSt, Abt. L. {I Op.), Nr. 003157/41, an A.O.K. Norwegen, 25.12.41, 
in A.O.K 20, Chefsachen allgemein, 21.9.40-1.5.42. AOK 20 35641. W.B. Nor- 
wegen, la, Nr. 5129/41, Beurteilung der militaerischen Lage in Norwegen, 25.12.41, 
in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen zum K.T.B., Band III. AOK 20 19070/4. 

3 A.O.K. Norwegen, la. Taetigkeitsbericht des Armeeoberkommandos Norwegen 
in der Zeit vom 1 —31 .12.41 , in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer den Monat Dezember 1941. 
AOK 20 19648/2. 


merely disruptive in purpose, the OKW feared that they might also have 
been staged to feel for weak spots where the British could gain a foothold 
from which to interdict German shipping along the Norwegian coast. 
As a result, Falkenhorst had been ordered back to Norway immediately. 4 

At the end of the month Hitler told Keitel and Raeder : "If the British 
go about things properly they will attack northern Norway at several 
points. In an all-out attack by their fleet and ground troops, they will 
try to displace us there, take Narvik if possible, and thus exert pressure 
on Sweden and Finland." He wanted all the German battleships sta- 
tioned in Norway and proposed having the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, 
and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were bottled up at Brest, 
break through the English Channel for the purpose. 5 Three weeks later 
in a conference with Raeder he stated that recent reports had convinced 
him that Great Britain and the United States were bent on attacking 
northern Norway in order to bring about a decisive turn in the course 
of the war. He expected attempts in the near future to seize numerous 
points along the coast from Trondheim to Kirkenes and a full-scale of- 
fensive in the spring. He claimed to have positive proof that Sweden 
had been promised Narvik and the ore deposits at Pechenga and would 
therefore participate on the side of the Western Powers. Norway he 
described as "the zone of destiny in this war," and he demanded uncondi- 
tional compliance with all of his demands concerning that area. The 
Navy, he insisted, would have to employ "each and every vessel in Nor- 
way." The order for "each and every vessel" at first included all of the 
submarines. The Naval Staff was pleased and relieved to learn, on 23 
January, that Hitler had been impressed by a report on submarine ac- 
complishments off the coast of the United States and had decided to 
leave the submarines there. 6 

The question of Sweden's intentions had worried the Germans since 
the start of the campaign against the Soviet Union. They had hoped 
and, to some extent, expected that Sweden would be drawn into the 
"crusade against Bolshevism" at least as a silent partner; but Sweden, 
after allowing the 163d Infantry Division to cross its territory from Nor- 
way in June 1941, had sharply restricted its assistance to the German 
forces. In his report to the OKW at the end of the year Falkenhorst 
had characterized Sweden's attitude in the event of a British-American 
landing in Norway as "at best uncertain." The Naval Staff, on the 
other hand, at the same time concluded that Swedish assistance, which 
took the form of food, war materiel, and credits for Finland and rail- 
road transportation, protection of shipping, and improvement of the 
ore facilities at Lulea for Germany, was a "not inconsiderable accom- 
plishment." In general, the German military authorities did not regard 

4 OKW, WFSt, Op., Nr. 442268/41, an W.B. Norwegen, 28.12.41, in A.O.K. 20, 
Chefsachen allgemein, 21.9.41-1.5.42. AOK 20 35641. 

5 Ftl€hT€T CotlfBT€TlC€S 3 1941 Hj p« 94. 

'Fuehrer Conferences, 1942, p. 6. Naval War Diary, Vol. 29, pp. 207, 217, 228. 


German railway gun in Norway. 

the threat from Sweden as acute except, as the Naval Staff stated it, in 
the event of <£ a big British operation which is successful." 7 

The OKW and the Armed Forces Commander, Norway (Falken- 
horsi), in January 1942 worked on the assumption that Norway as a 
key point of the European defense system could became a scene of major 
operations during 1942. They thought a full-scale attack during the 
winter was unlikely but did not rule out the possibility of local landings 
aimed at interdicting coastal shipping. A major offensive in the spring, 
they thought, had to be taken into consideration. Falkenhorst was 
promised 12,000 replacements, 20 "fortress" battalions (older men 
armed with captured weapons) with a total of 18,000 men, and the 
3d Mountain Division by early spring. In addition, he was instructed 
to begin setting up an armored unit, later designated as the 25th Panzer 
Division. 8 

Still worried, in early February, Hitler dispatched Generalfeldmar- 
schall Wilhelm List, the Armed Forces Commander Southeast (Bal- 
kans), to inspect the defenses in Finland and Norway and gave him 
broad authority to investigate the measures taken by the Army, Navy, 
Air Force, and civilian authorities. List recommended construction of 
additional defensive installations on the coast and in the interior, 

' W.B. Norwegen, la, Nr. 5129/4!, Beurteilung der milhaerischen Lage in Nor- 
weqen, 25.12,41, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Anlagen sum K.T.B., Band II.' AOK 20 
1 9070/4. Naval War Diary, Vol. 28, p. 1 36 and Vol. 29, p. 228. 

"OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt„ Nr. 128/42, Vortragsnoth, 11.1.42, in Norwegen, 
8.1.42-22.2.44, Teil 7. H 22/106, OKW, WFSl, Op. Nr. 00226/42, Kampf- 
anweisurtg fuer die Verteidigung Norwegens, la, Nr. 12/42, Weisung juer die Verleidi- 
gung Norwegens, 27.1.42, in A.O.K 20, Chelsachen altgemein, 21 3.40-1 .5.42. AOK 
20 35641. 


strengthening of the coast artillery, creation of three new divisional com- 
mands to take over the garrisons at Alta, Tromso, and Stavanger, im- 
provement of the roads in the north, and establishment of dependable 
communications between local detachments of the three services. 9 The 
command arrangements, he believed, could be left as they were. Hitler 
had thought of unifying the Northern Theater under an armed forces 
commander and had Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring in mind 
for the post. 10 

In March Hitler issued Fuehrer Directive No. 40 with the objective 
of creating responsible over-all commands in each of the European areas 
at least with respect to defense of the coasts. He assigned the prepara- 
tion and execution of coastal defense in Norway to the Armed Forces 
Commander, Norway, and in northern Finland to the Commanding Gen- 
eral, Army of Lapland. Operationally the Air Force and Navy units 
remained under their respective high commands, but they were ordered 
to "respond to the requirements of the Armed Forces Commander within 
the bounds of their ability." 11 In practice the order only increased 
Falkenhorst's authority slightly since each of the services, and the Navy 
in particular, insisted on its own interpretation. It also did not settle 
the question of relations between the Armed Forces Commander and 
Reichskommissar, Terboven. 

Meanwhile, under the cover of the long winter nights, the Navy was 
transferring its heavy ships to Norway. The battleship Tirpitz, first to 
go, docked in Trondheim on 16 January. The Naval Staff had been 
planning the transfer since November 1941, mainly for the effect it would 
have of tying down British heavy naval units. 12 Japan's entry into the 
war and Hitler's alarm over the Norwegian defenses enhanced the ad- 
vantages of the shift. The move was a success. Churchill, in January 
1941, believed that if the Tirpitz could be removed from the scene the 
world naval situation would be changed and the Allies could regain 
naval supremacy in the Pacific. 13 

The Tirpitz was the German Navy's most formidable ship. With a 
displacement of 42,000 tons and eight 15-inch guns in its main batteries, 
it was a potential match for any vessel afloat. The other two German 
battleships, sometimes called battle cruisers, the Scharnhorst and the 
Gneisenau, were lighter (31,000 tons) and mounted 1 1-inch guns. The 
S cheer and the Luetzow ( 1 1,000 tons), the so-called pocket battleships, 
carried 1 1 -inch guns, but actually were heavy cruisers, as were the newer 
8-inch cruisers Prinz Eugen and Hipper (14,000 tons). 

9 OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., Nr. 1584/42, Bericht des Generalfeldmarschall List, 
5.4.41, in Norwegen, 8.1.42-22.2.44, Teil I. H 22/106. 

10 Haider Diary, VII, p. 230. Naval War Diary, Vol. 29, p. 207. 

11 Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 
001031/42, 23.3.42, in Weisungen OKW, Fuehrer, 12.2.42-23.3.44, Band 3. 

13 Fuehrer Conferences, 1941, Vol. II, p. 55. 

13 Winston Churchill, The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Com- 
pany, 1950), Vol. IV, p. 112. 


In the second week of February the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, and 
the Prinz Eugen broke through the Channel, reaching Germany on the 
13th. Both battleships were damaged by mines, and the Gneisenau 
sustained severe damage during an air raid on Kiel later in the month. 
The Prinz Eugen with the Scheer proceeded to Norway, docking at 
Trondheim on the 23d; but the Prinz Eugen's rudder was blown off by 
a torpedo hit on the way, and the ship had to be returned to Germany 
for repairs. In March and April the Hipper and the Luetzow moved 
to Norway. In May the Navy had 1 battleship, 3 heavy cruisers, 8 
destroyers, 4 torpedo boats, and 20 submarines stationed along the 
Norwegian coast at Trondheim, Narvik, and Kirkenes." That strong 
force, aside from its potential defensive value, posed a threat to the 
British and American arctic convoys. Nevertheless, it constituted an 
unprofitable diversion of strength. Churchill has said that he was glad 
to have the German ships out of the way in Norway at the time the 
U-boat war in the Atlantic was in its most dangerous phase. 18 

At the end of April the Army of Norway had five infantry divisions, 
two security divisions, three area garrisons under divisional commands, 
and the 3d Mountain Division, which arrived during the month. The 
replacements and 20 fortress battalions had been incorporated into the 
divisions, and the 25th Panzer Division was being organized. 16 The 
army intended to bring the total of heavy coast artillery batteries up to 
152 before 1 August and to begin work on another 66 artillery batteries, 
2 torpedo batteries, and 21 depth charge projectors. In June Hitler 
ordered his armaments minister to convert Reichsstrasse 50 into an all- 
weather road and to begin building a single-track railroad from Mo 
via Fauske and Narvik to Kirkenes. 17 

During the spring and summer the Armed Forces Command, Norway, 
lived in a state of recurrent alarm. Every convoy sailing from Iceland 
to the Russian arctic ports was regarded as a possible invasion force, 
and "reliable" reports of impending landings came in almost daily. 
Actually, the chances of a British- American operation in the north were 
remote. The British version of Project Sledgehammer, early in the 
year, envisioned large-scale raiding operations along the coast of Europe 
from northern Norway to the Bay of Biscay, but Sledgehammer rapidly 
evolved into a plan to establish a beachhead in France. As an alterna- 
tive Churchill brought forward Operation Jupiter. He envisioned 
landings at Pechenga and Banak as a means of operating in direct con- 

14 OKW, WFSt, Op. (M), Nr. 55598/42, Vortragsnotiz, 1.4.42 and OKW, WFSt, 
Op. (M), Nr. 55717/42, Vortragsnotiz, 22.4.42. OKW /US. Naval War Diary, 
Vol. 30, pp. 137, 245, 275, 286; Vol. 31, p. 211; Vol. 33, p. 332. 

13 Churchill, op. ext., Vol. IV, p. 256. 
AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsberichte for the months January to May 1942. 
AOK 20 29362/1-5. 

17 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. (V), Vortragsnotiz Betr. Ausbau Norwegen, 5.4.42 
and OKW, WFSt, Qu. {Ill), Nr. 002050/42, 18.6.42, in Norwegen, 8.1.42-22.2.44, 
Teill. H 22/106. 


junction with the Russians and of removing from the scene the bases 
which were threatening the arctic convoys, but his plan aroused no 
enthusiasm either among his own military advisers or in the United 
States. His intention was to land a division at Pechenga and take the 
airfield at Banak near the head of Porsanger Fiord with one brigade. 
The operation would not have been as easy as Churchill seems to have 
thought. At Banak the Allied troops would have encountered units in 
division strength. Within bombing distance of Banak and Pechenga the 
Germans had four airfields, and at Pechenga they had taken strong 
defensive measures which will be described in more detail later in this 
chapter. 18 

In the early fall, when intelligence reports indicated an Allied opera- 
tion against Norway was unlikely before mid-winter, German anxiety 
subsided slightly. The 3d Mountain Division was transferred to the 
Army Group North, and the OKW planned to exchange the troops of 
three Norway divisions for those of three burned-out divisions from the 
Eastern Front, reducing the divisions to two regiments each in the 
process. 19 The Navy strengthened its force slightly by sending the light 
cruiser Koeln north and in November dispatched the light cruiser Nuern- 
berg to replace the Scheer, which returned to Germany. Tension began 
building up again almost immediately. In October the Army of Nor- 
way warned that further enemy landings (like the Dieppe raid of 
August 1942) were to be considered an absolute certainty. A landing 
in Norway was described as most dangerous because it could lead to a 
reversal of policy on the part of Sweden and because, even if limited to 
the offshore islands, it could succeed in cutting the supply line to north- 
ern Norway and Finland. 20 

As 1942 drew to a close, fear of an Allied landing in Norway and 
its possible effect on the attitude of Sweden grew. On 16 November, 
commenting on reports that the Swedish Government was strongly im- 
pressed by the recent events in North Africa, Hitler declared that for 
the coming spring he regarded "unqualified security in the Northern 
Area" as more important than a far-reaching offensive in Russia. To 
strengthen the Norwegian defenses he stopped all exchanges of troops 
with the Eastern Front and ordered a tank battalion from Finland and 
an engineer battalion from the Army Group North transferred to the 
Army of Norway immediately. He also earmarked the 5th Mountain 

18 Churchill, op. cit., Vol. IV, pp. 256, 323ff, 350, 447ff, 448. Maurice Matloff 
and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare 1941-1942 (Wash- 
ington, 1953), pp. 100, 189, 235, 244. 

18 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armeeoberkommandos Norwegen 
in der Zeit vom 1—30.9.42, in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer den Monat September 1942. 
A.O.K. 20 29362/9. 

20 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Nr. 45/42, Ausbau der Kanal—und Atlantikkueste, 
10.10.42, in A.O.K. Norwegen, Chefsachen zum K.T.B., 5.5.42-4.9.42. AOK 20 


Division for Norway as soon as the Army Group North could spare it 
and promised one of the Air Force field divisions then being formed. 21 

In December, through Finnish Army Headquarters, the Army of Nor- 
way received information concerning an alleged Allied plan to stage a 
landing on the narrow "neck" of Norway, somewhere between Trond- 
heim and Narvik, for the purpose of splitting the German forces in 
Scandinavia. The Allies also expected, it was said, that the Germans, 
fighting with their backs against the Swedish border, would demand per- 
mission to cross Swedish territory which the Swedes were almost certain 
to refuse. If the Germans resorted to force, Sweden would join the 
Allies and a second front would be created in Scandinavia. After 
analyzing the information the Army of Norway concluded that the 
most likely place for a landing would be in the Bodo area and the most 
likely time in March or April 1943. At the end of the year Falkenhorst 
retrospectively described the rumors of an invasion in 1942 as "mere 
attempts to deceive and mislead." "On the other hand," he concluded, 
"the report of a new operation planned for 1943 appears reliable." 22 

The Civil Administration 

Although popular rejection of the German rule in Norway was quick 
in coming and relentless, optimists among the German observers had 
predicted before the start of the Russian campaign that as operations 
against the Soviet Union progressed and clearly demonstrated the in- 
vincibility of German arms, a favorable turn in Norwegian opinion was 
to be expected. Those predictions had been promptly disproved. In 
September 1941 the Army of Norway reported that 90 percent of the 
population was convinced the British would win ultimately despite the 
German victories in the east. At the end of the year, the Army of 
Norway reported that the mass of the population was "in sharp opposi- 
tion to Germany." 23 

The year 1942 brought to an end the last German hopes of achieving 
a modus vivendi with the Norwegian people. It was Reichskommissar 
Terboven who placed the stamp of finality on the failure of German 
policy. He had come to Norway in 1940 determined to rule, perma- 
nently and alone. His first step had been to eliminate competition and 
undercut Quisling by easing the representatives of Rosenberg's ministry 
out of the country. In September 1940, disposing of the fiction of an 
independent government, he abolished all the Norwegian political par- 

21 Helmut Greiner, Aufzeichnungen ueber die Lagevortraege und Besprechungen 
im Fuehrer Hauptquartier vom 12 August 1942 bis 17 Maerz 1943, p. 67. MS 
# C-065a. OCMH. OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 004354/42, an W.B. Norwegen, 
17.11.42, in Norwegen, 8.1.42-22.2.44, Teil I. H 22/106. 

22 A.O.K. Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht des Armeeoberkommandos Norwegen 
in der Zeit vom 1-31.12.42 and W.B. Norwegen, Ic/Ia, Nr. 5600/42, Operationen 
gegen Norwegen, 29.12.42, in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer den Monat Dezember 1942, 
AOK 20 29362/13. 

23 AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsberichte. for the months of June, September, Oc- 
tober, and November 1941. AOK 20 13386/1 and 4; 18856/1 and 19648/1. 


ties except Quisling's National Union Party. He apparently promised 
Quisling, somewhat vaguely, that he would be permitted to form a gov- 
ernment as soon as his party developed some popular support. Since 
the party did not gain strength and Terboven demonstrated at every 
turn that he had no intention of relinquishing any of his power, Quisling 
was rapidly reduced to the futile pursuit of showering Hitler and Rosen- 
berg with carping letters. In the fall of 1940 Terboven created a chair- 
manless and virtually powerless committee of 13 State Councilors, 10 of 
them Quisling men. A year later when he renamed the councilors min- 
isters, the Army of Norway reported that the population was not im- 
pressed. 24 Because Quisling retained sonic influence with Hitler and 
Rosenberg, it was not possible to shunt him aside entirely. On 1 Feb- 
ruary 1942 Terboven reinstated him as Minister President but kept in 
his own hands the supreme executive power and required that all laws 
and ordinances have the prior approval of the Reichskommissar. 25 A 
feeble entity from the start, the second Quisling government eight months 
later lost its last political asset, a vague and already hollow claim that it 
could function as a true Norwegian Government. On the night of 5 
October 1942, after an act of sabotage had been discovered in an im- 
portant industrial installation, Terboven without informing Quisling 
declared a state of emergency in the Trondheim area. On his own 
authority he had 10 prominent men arrested and shot the following day 
as an expiatory measure and another 24 men executed within the next 
few days as indirect accomplices in the crime. That highhanded act of 
terror branded Quisling forever as a spineless puppet and killed all 
prospects of effective collaboration between the Norwegian and German 
authorities. 26 

By 1942 repression was firmly established as the principal instrument 
of German policy in Norway. How little success it had was demon- 
strated during the year when the Norwegians began to supplement their 
well-organized passive resistance with sabotage and other active meas- 
ures. Terboven, who bore the responsibility for maintaining order 
within the country, knew only one answer — more repression. In that 
respect, he did not reach his high point until February 1945 when he 
proposed to arrest and have shot numbers of influential businessmen as 
"intellectual instigators and accomplices" of the resistance. The meas- 
ure, fortunately, was never approved. 

Relations between Terboven and Falkenhorst were marked by wari- 
ness tinged with mutual suspicion. As Armed Forces Commander in an 
occupied country which might any day become the scene of active hos- 
tilities Falkenhorst could not help but regard the presence of an inde- 

24 AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht for the month of October 1941. AOK 
20 18856/1. 

26 International Military Tribunal, Vol. VI, p. 515. 

26 General der Infanterie a.D Erich Buschenhagen, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940—1945, July 1957. 


pendent civilian administrator, who claimed equal if not superior rank, 
as a nuisance and potential danger. Terboven, on the other hand, was 
torn between the ambition to establish himself as clearly superior to the 
military commander and the nagging fear that in a crisis he might him- 
self be shouldered aside. To Falkenhorst and his staff the poor state of 
German relations with the Norwegian people had been a source of 
irritation ever since April 1940. For purely practical military reasons 
they had wanted from the first to avoid stirring up any kind of resist- 
ance. The appointment of Terboven, an advocate of severity, had, in 
a sense, been a repudiation of their policy, and subsequently they had 
kept track of his failures with a certain perverse relish. 

While Falkenhorst, in the tradition of the German Army, diligently 
kept to his own sphere of responsibility, the Navy, from time to time, 
challenged Terboven's position directly. Both Raeder and the Com- 
manding Admiral, Norway, Generaladmiral Hermann Boehm, favored 
supporting Quisling and the National Union Party with a view toward 
completing a peace treaty through them which would leave Norway 
nominally neutral and independent but fully committed to cooperation 
with Germany. Raeder urged Hitler to appoint Boehm Armed Forces 
Commander, Norway, or name him to replace Terboven so that the pol- 
icy envisioned by the Navy might be put into effect. In October 1942 
Hitler decided against the Navy and ordered that for the duration of 
the war no negotiations were to be conducted concerning either an in- 
terim or final conclusion of peace between Germany and Norway. 27 

Operations in Finland 

With the question of its future operations completely undecided, the 
main task of the Army of Lapland in the winter of 1941^-2 was to re- 
group and return its attached Finnish units to Mannerheim's command. 
Since the Marshal had refused to assume responsibility for the Finnish 
III Corps sector, two additional German divisions, the 5th and 7th 
Mountain Divisions, were to be brought in. In the far north, the Moun- 
tain Corps Norway, under Generalleutnant Ferdinand Schoerner, 
formerly Commanding General, 6th Mountain Division, had one divi- 
sion, the 6th Mountain, in the Litsa line and the 2d Mountain Division 
plus the 193d Infantry Regiment in reserve near Pechenga while the 
line at the neck of the Rybatchiy Peninsula was held by the 288th 
Infantry Regiment plus one battalion of the 2d Mountain Division. 
Schoerner was a particularly energetic and determined officer. He 
gained a reputation for displaying those qualities best in adverse situa- 
tions, with the result that in later commands on the Eastern Front he 
rose rapidly, being promoted to field marshal in the last month of the 
war. His ruthless generalship, especially in the later stages of the war, 
earned him the enmity of his own troops, and he became the most un- 

27 Ibid. 


Winter position on the Verman line. 

popular general in the German Army. During the first winter in Lap- 
land, he demonstrated his disdain for adversity by admonishing his 
troops to live by the slogan "The Arctic Does Not Exist" [Arktis isi 
nicht ) . 

On the Verman River the XXXVI Corps, renamed the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps, under General der Infanterie Karl F. Weisenberger, 
who had replaced General Feige in November 1941, held its front with 
the 169th Infantry Division, the 324th Infantry Regiment (163d Divi- 
sion), and the 139th Mountain Regiment (detached from the 3d Moun- 
tain Division). The Finnish 6th Division was pulled out of the front 
and on 15 February left the Army of Lapland zone. The Finnish III 
Corps had SS-Division "Nord" and Finnish Division J east of Kesten'ga 
and the Finnish 3d Division at Ukhta. The former Group J had been 
raised to divisional strength in the fall of 1941 by the addition of the 
1 4th Regiment and a regiment of the Finnish 6th Division. SS-^Nord," 
reduced to a strength of three infantry battalions, was reinforced by two 
motorized machine gun battalions. The 9th SS-Regiment, which had 
been pulled out in December for return to Germany, reached Reval just 
in time to be thrown into the Army Group North front during the Soviet 
winter offensive. In January 1942 the Army of Lapland was promised 
five fortress battalions for defense of the Kirkenes-Pechenga area, and 
in mid-January the first elements of the 7th Mountain Division debarked 
at Hanko, At the end of the month ice closed the Finnish ports, stop- 
ping all further transport operations until spring. 5 * 

A.O K. Lappland, ta, Org., Nr. 301/42, Kriegsgliederung, 30.1 .42, in AntdeHh- 
band I zum K.T.B. A.O.K. Lappland. A OK 20 19692/2. A. O.K. Lappland, la, 
K.T.B. 1, 14, 20, 22, and 31 Jan; 15 Feb 42. AOK 20 19692/1. 


Mannerheim's reorganization of the Finnish Army was to be less 
thoroughgoing than he had planned. In January 1942 the Arm> of 
Karelia headquarters was disbanded, and Heinrichs returned to his 
post as Army Chief of Staff. The Finnish line was divided into three 
"groups" or "fronts": the MaaseM Front, the Aunus Front (Isthmus 
of Olonets — in Finnish "Aunus"), and the Isthmus Front (Isthmus of 
Karelia). During the winter more than 100,000 older men were re- 
leased from the Army, but the planned conversion of divisions into 
brigades proceeded slowly and was finally abandoned in May after two 
divisions had been converted. 29 

The front in Finland remained relatively quite throughout the winter 
except on the Maaselka Front where the Russians staged several probing 
attacks. In late March the Finns captured Suursaari (Gogland), an 
island in the Gulf of Finland south of Helsinki. Suursaari was valuable 
for the air defense of Finland and in blockading Leningrad. It had 
been occupied by a small Finnish force in December 1941 and retaken 
by the Russians. On 1 April the Finns also took Tytarsaari, a smaller 
island 12 miles to the south, which they turned over several days later 
to a German garrison. On 1 1 April the Russians began an offensive 
against the Svir bridgehead which they broke off without result ten days 
later. 30 

In late winter the Army of Lapland's prospects of resuming offensive 
operations in the near future declined. On 2 March one regiment of 
the 7th Mountain Division awaiting shipment to Finland was trans- 
ferred temporarily to the Army Group North, and a week later it was 
followed by one regiment of the 5th Mountain Division. At the end 
of February the OKW informed Dietl that his main mission in the fore- 
seeable future would be defense of the Pechenga area, particularly 
against sea-borne landings. Since the Russians on the Rybatchiy Penin- 
sula posed a standing threat there, he was to prepare a plan for taking 
the peninsula, but the timing was left entirely open. In mid-March the 
Army of Lapland, on orders from Hitler, transferred three battalions to 
the Mountain Corps Norway to provide mobile defensive units for the 
Finnish arctic coast. On 2 April, visiting Dietl at Rovaniemi, Manner- 
heim again said that he could not advance to Belomorsk while the Rus- 
sians held Leningrad. Because of the terrain, he did not believe such an 
operation possible before the next winter in any case. 31 

The Soviet Spring Offensive 

After the fall of 1941 the Russians gradually strengthened their forces 
opposing the Army of Lapland. In the late fall they created the Karel- 
ian Front (army group) to direct operations from Murmansk to Lake 

2fl Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 470. Erfurth, op. cit. p. 74. 

30 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 469, 473. Erfurth, op. cit., p. 72. 

31 A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B. 1, 21 Feb; 2, 10, and 15 Mar; 2 Apr. 42. AOK 
20 19692/1. 


Snow-covered road in northern Finland. Note dead saplings placed to indicate 

outline of road. 

Onega. The Fourteenth Amy took over the zone from Murmansk to 
Kandalaksha, and in April 1942 headquarters of the Twenty-sixth Army 
took command in the sector opposite the Finnish III Corps. On 1 April 
the Russians had two divisions, two brigades, three border regiments, and 
two machine gun battalions opposing the Mountain Corps Norway; 
two divisions, one border regiment, and two ski battalions opposite the 
XXXVI Mountain Corps; and two divisions, two brigades, three ski 
battalions, and a border regiment opposite the III Corps. 33 In April 
they moved in two new divisions opposite the III Corps and two ski 
brigades opposite the Mountain Corps Norway, at the same time bring- 
ing the ski battalions already in the XXXVI Mountain Corps and the 
III Corps areas up to brigade strength. 

The Army of Lapland was late in detecting the Soviet preparations. 
On 1 3 April the III Corps canceled attack plans of its own when aerial 
reconnaissance reported 700-800 cars in the Loukhi railroad yards, but 
because of bad weather the army detected the actual build-up at the 
front only off the southern flank of the Mountain Corps Norway. Until 
two days after the attack began Dietl believed that the Russians would 
not undertake a large-scale operation with the spring thaw imminent. 
But the Russians apparently expected to derive two advantages from 
the thaw: they intended to gain their first objective before it set in 
strongly enough to stop operations and thereafter expected to be safe 
from counterattacks for several weeks; and they believed it would make 

51 (Geb.) A.O.K. 20, Ic, Taeligkeitsbericht fuer die Zeit vom 1.4.-31.12.42, 6.3.43. 
AOK 20 27252/19. Situation map 13 Apr 42 in Taetigheitsbericht der Abt Ic, 
Karel. -Front u. Feindlagenkarten vom XIX A.K. AOK 20 27252/22. 


the III Corps' 250-mile-long supply line impassable while, for their own 
supplies, they had the use of a rail line up to the front. 33 

The Russians launched their offensive on 24 April with a thrust by 
the 23d Guards Division and the 8th Ski Brigade against the thinly held 
left flank of the III Corps east of Kesten'ga. Later in the day frontal 
attacks on the center and a second enveloping thrust on the right flank 
gave it added force. On the 26th the left flank of the III Corps cracked, 
and at the same time with more information on the extent of the Soviet 
build-up available it became clear that the offensive was intended as a 
decisive stroke to smash the corps' front and force it back west of Kes^ 
ten'ga. The Army of Lapland had in reserve only one tank battalion 
equipped with obsolete Panzer I's and a company of the Brandenburg 
Regiment (specialists trained for sabotage operations behind the enemy 
lines). Those it threw in along with the entire XXXVI Mountain 
Corps reserve, one battalion. The III Corps brought up an additional 
battalion from the Ukhta sector. The Fifth Air Force, which had or- 
ders to concentrate on the Arctic shipping and the Murmansk Railroad 
except in a crisis, ordered its fighters and dive bombers to begin shifting 
from Banak and Kirkenes to Kemi behind the III Corps front. 

On 27 April the Soviet Fourteenth Army opened an offensive on the 
Litsa. It began during the day with a heavy attack on the 6th Moun- 
tain Division right flank by the 10th Guards Division and a secondary 
thrust against the left flank on the bridgehead by the 14th Rifle Divi- 
sion. That night the 12th Naval Brigade landed on the west shore of 
Litsa Bay and began to push down on the open flank. This last move 
came as a complete surprise to the Mountain Corps Norway and might 
have had considerable success if it had been executed in greater strength. 
At the turn of the month the worst snow storm of the year stalled opera- 
tions on both sides in the Litsa area for several days. 34 

With Russian spearheads standing due north of Kesten'ga, Dietl on 1 
May asked Mannerheim for the Finnish 12th Brigade (formerly the 6th 
Division) to reinforce the III Corps. Mannerheim, unwilling to tie 
down the brigade in what threatened to develop into a long, drawn-out 
operation, refused but offered instead to give the Army of Lapland the 
163d Infantry Division and take over the Ukhta sector after a German 
corps relieved III Corps. The offer promised little help in the imme- 
diate situation, but Dietl decided to accept since in the long run he 
would gain a division and get rid of responsibility for the front at 
Ukhta. 35 

33 A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band I, Nr. 2, 12, 13, 26 Apr 42. AOK 20 
27252/1. A. O.K. Lappland, la, Op., Nr. 1750/42, Zusammenfassender Bericht 
ueber die Abwehrkaempfe der Armee Lappland vom 24.4.- 2 '3. 5. 42, in Anlagenband 
VII zum K.T.B. Nr. 2 A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 27252/7. 

Zi Gen. Kdo. Geb.-Korps Norwegen, la, Nr. 965/42, Bericht ueber die Abwehr- 
kaempfe des Gebirgskorps gegen die russische Umfassungsoperation v. 27 .4.-16.5.42, 
in Anlagenband VI zum K.T.B. A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 27252/6. 

35 A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band I, Nr. 2, 1 and 4 May 42. AOK 20 27252/1. 


In the first days of May the Soviet Twenty-Sixth Army brought up 
fresh units, the 186th Rifle Division and the 80th Rifle Brigade, to add 
weight to the envelopment of the III Corps' left wing. The Army of 
Lapland ordered the remaining two battalions of the 139th Mountain 
Regiment down from the XXXVI Mountain Corps, and the III Corps 
brought . in another battalion from Ukhta. By pulling two battalions 
out of the right flank the III Corps managed to oppose the Russian two 
divisions and two brigades with nine battalions. On 3 May the Russians 
sent the 8th Ski Brigade and a regiment of the 186th Rifle Division in 
a wide sweep to the west and south in an attempt to cut the road behind 
Kesten'ga. The III Corps proposed pulling out of Kesten'ga and the 
positions east of the town to establish a new line in the narrows between 
Pya Lake and Top Lake, but Died, believing a withdrawal would entail 
too great losses of men and supplies, ordered the corps to hold even if it 
should be cut off. 

On 5 May the 8th Ski Brigade and the regiment of the 186th Rifle 
Division came within two miles of the road running west of Kesten'ga 
and had advance parties out almost to the road; but in the swamps 
northwest of the town the attack lost momentum. In the next two days 
the Germans and Finns were able to encircle the two Russian units and 
virtually wipe them out. The 8th Ski Brigade was reduced to a total 
strength of 367 men. By 6 May the Army of Lapland and the III 
Corps concluded that the crisis on the north flank had passed. The 
defense had been successful, at least partly as a consequence of the 
Russians' failure to employ their vastly superior numbers effectively. 
They had dissipated their strength in un-co-ordinated attacks by single 
divisions, with the result that the 186th Rifle Division and the 23d 
Guards Division were reduced to between 30 and 40 percent of strength, 
the 80th Rifle Brigade was almost as bad off, and the 8 th Ski Brigade 
was nearly destroyed. At the end the political officers (Politruks) were 
often no longer able to drive their men into battle. On the 7th, certain 
that the Russians could not mount another attack without fresh units, 
Dietl decided to counterattack. 36 

The fighting on the Litsa front never reached a crisis like that in the 
III Corps area, but the situation there was believed to be potentially 
more serious because of the supposed danger of a United States-British 
landing on the arctic coast. On 9 May Dietl and Schoerner decided to 
risk everything for the sake of a quick decision. The entire 2d Moun- 
tain Division, parts of which had moved up already, was ordered to the 
front, and the coastal defenses between Tana Fiord and Pechenga Bay 

m A.O.K. Lappland, la, Op. Nr. 1750/42, Zusammenfassender Bericht ueber die 
Abwehrkaempfe der Artnee Lappland vom 24.4—23.5.42, 4.6.42, in Anlagenband 
VII zum K.T.B. Nr. 2, A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 27252/7. A.O.K. Lappland, 
la, K.T.B., Band I, Nr. 2, 1-7 May 1942. AOK 20 27252/1. Ill A.K., No. 
408/Adj., [Report on defensive battles in the Kesten'ga-Luokhi sector], 28.5.42, in 
Anlagenband VI zum K.T.B., A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 27252/6. 



27 April - 14 May 1942 


Map 19 

at. Booth 

were stripped down to four battalions. But even before the last reserves 
were in the line the situation suddenly changed. On 14 May the 12th 
Naval Brigade, its over-water supply lines under constant dive-bomber 
harrassment, found its positions on the west shore of Litsa Bay untenable 
and withdrew. Thereafter the Russians, although they had brought up 
a fresh division in the past week, also ceased their attacks on the southern 
flank, and on 15 May the Mountain Corps Norway regained its original 
positions along the entire front. 

North of Kesten'ga spring thaws delayed the III Corps counterattack 
until 15 May. Meanwhile, the Russians, characteristically, had thrown 
up elaborate field fortifications. When a flanking attack by three Fin- 
nish battalions became bogged down in impassable terrain, the Germans 
had to resort to a series of frontal attacks which finally breached the 
Russian line on 2 1 May. Russian resistance collapsed, and the III 
Corps had almost regained its original line when, on 23 May, contrary 
to orders from the Army of Lapland, Siilasvuo stopped the advance. 87 

The last week and a half of operations north of Kesten'ga had seen a 
recurrence of tension between the German and Finnish commanders. 
The Army of Lapland noted on 23 May, "In the course of the last 
three weeks the army has received the growing impression that the Com- 
manding General, III Corps, either on his own initiative or on instruc- 
tions from higher Finnish authorities, is avoiding all decisions which 
could involve Finnish troops in serious fighting." The German liaison 
officer with the III Corps reported that German troops had made all the 
major attacks since 15 May, and the Army of Lapland recorded that 
Siilasvuo had repeatedly issued orders on his own authority which he 
knew the Army of Lapland would not automatically approve, the last of 
those being his order to break off the operation. 

Although the III Corps had not regained the best defensive positions 
at several points, Died decided to let Siilasvuo's decision stand, particu- 
larly since he saw an immediate danger that the Finns would pull out 
and leave the German troops stranded. On the 23d he issued an order 
limiting Siilasvuo's authority with regard to withdrawing troops from the 
line; but on the following day, disregarding that order, the III Corps 
ordered all Finnish battalions out of the German sector of the front and 
demanded that within three days the Germans return all horses and 
wagons borrowed from the Finns. The last measure would have cut off 
the Germans without supplies, and Dietl had to appeal to Siilasvuo in 
the name of "brotherhood-in-arms" not to leave the German units in a 
hopeless position. 38 

Although the Finnish liaison officer with the Army of Lapland assured 

37 A. O.K. Lappland, la, Op. Nr. 1750/42, Zusammenfassender Bericht ueber die 
Abwerhrkaempfe der Armee Lappland, loc. cit. A. O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band 
I, Nr. 2, 15-23 May 1942. AOK 20 27252/1. 

^A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band I, Nr. 2, 22-25 May 1942. AOK 20 


him that the Finnish High Command had exerted no pressure on the 
III Corps to spare its Finnish troops or to get them out quickly, Died or- 
dered the German troops made independent of Finnish support as fast 
as possible and asked the OKW to speed up transfer of the 7th Mountain 
Division. However, Hitler had just decided that elements of the 7th 
Mountain Division would have to remain with the Army Group North 

On 3 June a working staff of the XVIII Mountain Corps arrived, 
and Dietl proposed having the corps take over the Kesten'ga sector at 
the middle of the month, but Siilasvuo refused to relinquish his command 
unless the majority of the Finnish troops were out of the area by then. 
On the 18th Mannerheim agreed to an exchange at the end of the month 
provided the 14th Regiment and elements of the 3d Division were re- 
turned to him. With agreement finally reached, the XVIII Mountain 
Corps, under General der Gebirgstruppe Franz Boehme, took command 
at Kesten'ga on 3 July. One Finnish regiment remained in the corps 
sector until mid-September, when it was relieved by the last elements 
of the 7th Mountain Division. 39 

The defensive battles east of Kesten'ga and on the Litsa were clear- 
cut victories for the Germans and Finns. The III Corps claimed to 
have counted 15,000 Russian dead in the front lines and maintained that 
enemy losses behind the lines from artillery fire and aerial bombardment 
were also high. The 85th Independent Brigade, for instance, was 
smashed by dive bombers before it could reach the front. The Moun- 
tain Corps Norway claimed 8,000 enemy killed. The total German and 
Finnish casualties were 3,200 on the Litsa and 2,500 in the III Corps 
sector. Still, the suddenness with which the Russians broke off their 
operations came as a surprise, since, with a fresh division, the 152d 
"Ural" Division, on the Litsa, and, reportedly, 20,000 replacements at 
Loukhi, they had the potential for a second try. Their initial heavy 
losses no doubt figured largely in the decision to abandon both offensives, 
as did the fact that, with their timetable thrown off schedule, the oncom- 
ing thaw reduced their prospects of success. In the opinion of the Army 
of Norway one result of the successful defense ranked above all others; 
namely, that in the far north for some time to come the danger of a 
Russian thrust in conjunction with a British-American landing was 
removed. 40 

™ A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band 2, Nr. 2, 3, 5, 7, and 18 Jun 42. AOK 20 
27252/2. A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band 2, Nr. 3, 17 Sep 42. AOK 20 

40 III A.K., No. 408/Adj., [Report on defensive battles in the Kesten'ga-Loukhi 
sector], 28.5.42 and Gen. Kdo. Geb-Korps Norwegen, la, Nr. 965/42, Bericht ueber 
die Abwehrkaempfe des Gebirgskorps Norwegen gegen die russische Umfassungsopera- 
tion v. 27.4.-16.5.42, in Anlagenband VI zum K.T.B. A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 
27252/6. A.O.K. Lappland, la, Op. Nr. 1750/42, Zusammenfassender Bericht 
ueber die Abwehrkaempfe der Armee Lappland vom 24.4.-23.5.42, 4.6.42, in An- 
lagenband VII zum K.T.B. Nr. 2, A.O.K. Lappland. AOK 20 27252/7. 


The new Marshal of Finland, Baron Carl Gustaf Mannerheim (left) is congratulated 
on the occasion of his 75th birthday by Generaloberst Edward Diet!; center back- 
ground is Generaloberst Hans-Juergers StumplT. 

Abortive Plans 

In late April, a day before the Russians began their spring offensive, 
the Army of Lapland informed the OKW that, since its promised rein- 
forcement would not be completed until fall, it considered offensive 
operations during the summer impracticable. A month later, in its 
directive for the Army of Lapland operations in the summer, the OKW 
accepted that estimate and set only two specific tasks for the army: to 
restore the situation east of Kesten'ga, regaining the old defense line; 
and to move all troops that could be spared from the first assignment 
to the Mountain Corps Norway. The army main effort henceforth 
would be in the Mountain Corps sector, where the primary mission 
would be defense against United States-British invasion attempts. The 
OKW pointed out that it considered the Rybatchiy Peninsula of greatest 
importance for the conduct of the war in the far north and that prepara- 
tions for taking the peninsula would have to be continued. Since it 
could not foresee the time when the troop and supply situations would 
make such an operation possible, the date was left open — possibly the 
late summer of 1942 or the late winter of 1 942-43. 11 

On 4 June Hitler and Keitel flew to Imola to pay their respects to 
Mannerheim on his seventy-fifth birthday. The visit was not entirely 

il OKW, K.T.B. Ob, d, Wehrmacht, 1 Apr-30 Jun 42, 2% Apr and 16 May 42. 
International Military Tribunal Doc. 1807-PS. OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 55798/42, 
Weisung juer die weitefe Kampfuehrung des AOK Lappland, 16.5.42, in Anlagenband 
VI zum K.T.B. A.O.K. Lapptand. AOK 20 27253/6. 


welcome to the Finns since it gave a substantial jolt to their already 
strained relations with the United States and resulted in a breach of 
consular relations two weeks later. During the German visit Dietl told 
Hitler that the Army of Lapland did not have enough troops to take 
the Rybatchiy Peninsula or to hold it if it were taken. Hitler was re- 
luctant to abandon the operation and ordered preparations continued, 
instructing the Fifth Air Force to ready all its ground installations in 
the area for very strong forces. The proposed operation against Belo- 
morsk also came under consideration, and Keitel reported later that the 
Finns had said they were sorry they had not been able to execute the 
operation during the past winter because Belomorsk was of special im- 
portance to them not only militarily but for the purpose of establishing 
their postwar frontier. They did not consider the operation possible 
during the summer but had it under consideration for the next winter. 42 
After the Russians fell back from Kesten'ga the front became quiet. 
In June the Army of Lapland finished moving its five fortress battalions 
to the arctic coast, and during July and August it pushed work cn the 
coast artillery, emplacing 2 1 batteries in the zone between Tana Fiord 
and Pechenga Bay. At the end of summer, Headquarters, 210th 
Infantry Division, was brought in to command the fortress battalions 
and coast artillery. At the end of June the Army of Lapland was re- 
designated as the Twentieth Mountain Army. In July the XVIII 
Mountain Corps staged a small attack to recover a commanding height 
off its left flank which had been left in Russian hands when Siilasvuo 
stopped the III Corps operations. Otherwise, the Germans and Rus- 
sians both contented themselves with harassment, which for the most 
part took the form of starting forest fires in each other's areas. White 
phosphorus shells easily ignited the evergreen trees, and the fires oc- 
casionally burned across mine fields or threatened installations causing 
serious temporary inconvenience. 43 

The only summer activity which came near having strategic signif- 
icance was Operation Klabautermann, which the German Navy and 
Air Force conducted from Finnish bases on the shore of Lake Ladoga. 
The idea of using small boats to interdict Soviet traffic on Lake Ladoga 
had occurred to Hitler in the fall of 1941, too late to be put into effect. 
It was revived in the spring of 1942 after Finnish reports indicated that 
the Russians were evacuating Leningrad. Hitler feared that the Rus- 
sians might pull out of Leningrad entirely; in that case, the northern 
sector of the front would no longer be important to them, and they 
would be able to transfer troops to another part of the front. Conse- 

42 On his birthday Mannerheim was named Marshal of Finland, and during the 
visit Hitler advanced Dietl to the rank of Generaloberst. OKW, K.T.B. Ob. d. 
Wehrmacht, 1 Apr-30 Jun 42, 5 Jun 42. I.M.T., Doc. 1807-PS. 

43 In June, also, transfer of the 163d Infantry Division to the XXXVI Mountain 
Corps zone was completed, and SS-Division "Nord" was renamed SS-Mountain 
Division "Nord." A.O.K. Lappland, la, K.T.B., Band 2, Nr. 2, passim. AOK 20 
27252/2 (Geb) A.O.K. 20, la, K.T.B., Band 3, Nr. 2, 1 Sep 42. AOK 20 27252/3. 


quently, he ordered the evacuation "combated with all means." 44 By 
1 July the Navy had German and Italian PT boats ready for action on 
the lake. The Air Force brought in its craft a month later. Both 
claimed the over-all command and so further impaired the operation, 
which was already hampered by lack of air cover and the hazards of 
operating on the shallow lake. 45 Klabautermann dragged on until 6 
November when the German crews and equipment were withdrawn. 
The Russians, in the meantime, had completed their evacuation as 
planned, using boats to carry supplies and military equipment from 
Novaya Ladoga to the Isthmus and bringing back nonessential civilians 
on the return trips. 46 

In June it appeared that the Twentieth Mountain Army's next mis- 
sion would be occupation of the Rybatchiy Peninsula, planning for which 
was then given the code name Wiesengrund. Since Mannerheim was 
about to take over the Ukhta sector, releasing the 5th Mountain Divi- 
sion for other tasks, the troop problem appeared to be solved. In the 
first week of July, however, the OKW informed Dietl that the 5th 
Mountain Division could not be transferred to the Pechenga area because 
it was impossible to bring up enough supplies for another full-strength 
division there. The OKW intended "in the long run" to send in enough 
"static" troops (without horses and vehicles) to relieve the 6th Mountain 
Division on the Litsa, freeing it and the 2d Mountain Division for 
Wiesengrund. Dietl protested immediately that the Litsa line was no 
place for scantily equipped, third-rate troops, and with that Wiesen- 
grund was shelved. 47 

Having still, potentially, a division to spare, Dietl returned immediately 
to the idea of a double thrust to the Murmansk Railroad, by the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps to Kandalaksha and by the Finnish Army to Belomorsk. 
In conferences with Erf urth on 8 and 9 July and with Jodl on the 1 3th 
the project was further developed, and after Jodl carried it back to 
Fuehrer Headquarters Hitler gave it his approval in Fuehrer Directive 
No. 44 of 21 July 1952. The Twentieth Mountain Army was to pre- 
pare to take Kandalaksha in the fall and was assured that to free the 
required Finnish forces Leningrad would be taken in September at the 
latest and the 5th Mountain Division would be in Finland by the end 
of September. Hitler warned that defense of the Pechenga nickel mines 
remained the army's most important task and required maintenance of 
sufficient reserves at all times. He also officially canceled Wiesengrund 

44 OKW, K.T.B. Ob. d. Wehrmacht, 1 Apr~30 Jun 42, 26 May 42. I.M.T. Doc. 

45 The Air Force claim stemmed from its possession of the Siebel-ferries, twin- 
hulled landing craft mounting a small caliber antiaircraft gun, which had been 
invented by an Air Force colonel. The dispute is a good example of the tendency 
of each of the German services to arrogate to itself any function for which it could 
establish even a remotely defensible claim. 

46 Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 75, 94-96. 

47 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Op. Nr. 1405/42, an Geb.-Korps Norwegen, 3.7.42, in 
Anlagenband VIII zum K.T.B. Nr. 2, {Geb.) AOK 20. AOK 20 27252/8. 


for 1942 but ordered preparations continued in such a fashion that it 
could be executed in the spring of 1943 on eight weeks' notice. The 
Kandalaksha operation was assigned the code name Lachsfang. 48 

The XXXVI Mountain Corps initiated planning for Lachsfang on 
22 July. Success, it was believed, hinged on two requirements, a quick 
breakthrough on the Verman line, and, subsequently, a rapid thrust 
toward Kandalaksha before the enemy could make another stand. The 
XXXVI Mountain Corps intended to smash the Verman positions by 
punching through with one infantry division along the road and another 
along the railroad. A mountain division would sweep around the north 
flank and push eastward to prevent the enemy's organizing a second 
line farther back. The corps planned to employ 80,000 troops, just 
twice the number used in the 1941 summer operations; and the Fifth 
Air Force agreed to provide 60 dive bombers, 9 fighters, and 9 bombers, 
more planes than had been available for the entire Silberfuchs Opera- 
tion in 1941. Time was an essential element. Operations could be 
continued up to 1 December but after that would become impossible 
because of deep snow and short periods of daylight. The late winter, 
mid-March to mid-April, afforded a second, but less favorable, possi- 
bility since the German infantry divisions were not trained for winter 
operations in the Arctic. The XXXVI Mountain Corps believed it 
would need four weeks for Lachsfang and wanted to time the opera- 
tion to end in mid-November since then the length of daylight would be 
less than seven hours and an hour a week would be lost thereafter. 49 

Because a simultaneous Finnish operation against Belomorsk was con- 
sidered indispensable, Erfurth sounded out the Finnish reaction to 
Fuehrer Directive No. 44. Heinrichs, Mannerheim's chief of staff, in- 
dicated that the Finnish attitude was "positive" ; but Leningrad would 
have to be taken first. The Finnish Command also regarded it "as nec- 
essary" that the left flank of the Army Group North be advanced east 
to the middle Svir. The first condition was expected, but the second 
came as a surprise. At the OKH the Germans told Mannerheim's rep- 
resentative, Talvela, that, if the Marshal intended to insist on it as a pre- 
requisite, Lachsfang would have to be dropped. Avoiding a firm 
commitment, Mannerheim in August sent Heinrichs to Fuehrer Head- 
quarters to straighten the matter out orally. Having entered a caveat, 
the Finns proposed to employ eight divisions and an armored division 
(activated in July 1942) in an attack northeastward from the Maaselka 
Front. Again, time was a critical element, since four of the divisions 
would have to come from the Isthmus Front, and redeployment, because 

m Der Fuehrer, OKW, WFSt, Op., Nr. 551275/42, Weisung Nr. 44, 21.7.42, in 
Weisungen OKW, Fuehrer, 12.2.42-23.3.44, Band 3. 

48 Gen. Kdo. XXXVI {Geb.) A.K., Fuehrungsabteilung, K.T.B. u. Anlagen zu 
"Lachsfang," 22.7.-31.10.42. XXXVI AK 29155/1. Gen. Kdo. XXXVI [Geb.) 
A.K., Qu., Unterlagen fuer "Lachsfang," 1.8.-22.8.42. XXXVI AK 29155/2. 


of poor roads, could not be accomplished in less than three to four weeks 
after the fall of Leningrad. 50 

The German and Finnish Lachsfang operations gave strong promise 
of success, but whether or not they could be executed depended entirely 
on events in the Army Group North sector. In Fuehrer Directive No. 
45 of 23 July 1942 Hitler ordered the army group to be prepared to 
execute Operation Nordlicht, the capture of Leningrad, by September. 
He promised five divisions and heavy siege artillery from the Eleventh 
Army, which had completed its operations in the Crimea, since the Army 
Group North, which had been slighted in favor of the summer offensive 
by the southern army groups, already had its forces spread thin over an 
extensive front. The Eighteenth Army, in the Leningrad zone, believed 
Nordlicht would require from two to three months for execution. Be- 
cause 13 Soviet rifle divisions and 3 tank brigades (exclusive of those 
opposite the Finns ) were known to be in the Leningrad area, the Army 
Group North set its own troop requirements at 18 divisions. With 5 
divisions from the Eleventh Army and 5 of its own, it still anticipated a 
deficit of 8 divisions. 51 

On 8 August Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Kuechler, who had re- 
placed Leeb as commanding general of the army group, reported on 
Nordlicht at Fuehrer Headquarters. He pointed out that the Rus- 
sians already outnumbered his own troops nearly two to one and asked 
for new divisions from the OKH. Hitler replied that he could not give 
divisions he did not have and that he had already made artillery avail- 
able on a scale not seen in warfare since the World War I battle of 
Verdun. 52 To the question of how much time was required, Kuechler 
replied that he expected to complete Nordlicht by the end of October. 
Jodl, who was also present, interjected that it would have to be ended 
sooner since it was not an end in itself but a preparation for 
Lachsfang. 53 Hitler then set 1 September as the latest starting date for 

That the conference satisfied no one was clear immediately, and Jodl 
at one point suggested turning the operation over to Generalfeldmar- 

50 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. IN, Operationen gegen die Murmanbahn, 5.8.42 and 
Der Kdr. d. Verb. Stab Nord, Nr. 46/42, Kampffuehrung in Nordfinnland, 2.8.42, 
in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. IN, Band II, Finnland. H 22/227. OKW, WFSt, 
Op. (H), Nr. 55139/42, Abschrift von Fernschreiben Gen. Erfurth, 10.8.42. 
OKW/1 19. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 83ff . 

51 Der Fuehrer, OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 551258/42, Weisung Nr. 45, 23.7.42, in 
Weisungen OKW, Fuehrer, 12.2.42-23.3.44, Band 3. H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 
20,23, 26 Jul 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/11. 

53 He was moving up the siege artillery which had been used at Sevastopol, a total 
of 817 guns (280 batteries), in calibers ranging from 75 millimeters to 800 milli- 
meters. In the 800-mm. caliber (31.5 inches) there was one gun, with 46 rounds 
of ammunition. "Dora," as it was called, required its own antiaircraft batteries and 
special police protection. Among the other heavy pieces were two 600-mm., two 
420-mm., and six 400-mm. howitzers- — in fact, as Hitler claimed, a powerful array 
of artillery. 

™ OKH, Gen Qu., Qja. 3/Mun., Nr. 02364/42, Vortragsnotiz, Munitions- Auf- 
marsch fuer "Nordlicht," 26.8.42, min. OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. IN, Band II, Teil 
1. H 22/224. H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 8 Aug 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/13. 


schall Fritz Erich von Manstein, who as Commanding General, Eleventh 
Army, had achieved a brilliant success in the siege of Sevastopol. Al- 
though the idea appeared to make no impression on Hitler at the mo- 
ment, two weeks later he announced his intention to give Manstein and 
the Eleventh Army staff command of Nordlicht. The Army Group 
North protested that, with the plan already worked out by the Eighteenth 
Army and the starting date three weeks away, a change of command 
would only create confusion ; but Hitler, having made up his mind, was 
determined to have Manstein. 

If he expected a more optimistic approach to Nordlicht he was mis- 
taken. In his first conference with Kuechler, on 28 August, Manstein 
said that he did not believe massive air and artillery bombardment 
could be counted on to break the Russian resistance. Sevastopol, he 
pointed out, had demonstrated the Russians' relative immunity to ter- 
rorization by heavy bombardment. He believed Nordlicht would be 
difficult and preferred an attack from the Finnish Isthmus Front. In 
any event, he thought the attack would have to be made from both 
fronts. 54 

In the meantime, another difficulty had arisen. The Army Group 
North would have to release the 5th Mountain Division before 15 August 
if it was to participate in Lachsfang on schedule. That Kuechler de- 
clared impossible because he had no reserves with which to relieve the 
division and could not risk further weakening his front on the Volkhov. 
The problem went up to Hitler, who mulled it over for a week and at 
the last minute, on 15 August, decided to leave the 5th Mountain Divi- 
sion with the Army Group North and transfer the 3d Mountain Division 
from Norway to Finland instead. 55 

On 27 August, as Kuechler had feared, the Russians demonstrated 
that they held most of the trumps. They opened an offensive from the 
east immediately south of Lake Ladoga, striking at the so-called "bottle- 
neck," the extreme left flank of the Army Group North where its fronts 
facing east and facing Leningrad stood back-to-back only a few miles 
apart. Their offensive threatened, potentially at least, to reestablish 
land contact with Leningrad ; and within a day or two they had achieved 
local breakthroughs. Hitler was furious but helpless as he watched his 
own plans for an offensive evaporate. 58 

On the last day of the month the OKW had to divert the 3d Moun- 
tain Division, which already had elements at sea, from Finland to the 
Army Group North; and the Eighteenth Army reported that, with the 
Russian offensive certain to be the major concern for weeks, Nordlicht 
had become a completely indefinite affair. A day later the OKW and 
OKH drew the necessary conclusions: they canceled Lachsfang for 

54 H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 8, 21 and 28 Aug 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/13. 

55 H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 10 Aug 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/13. OKW, WFSt, 
Op. Nr. 002820/42, 15.8.42, in Weisungen OKW, Fuehrer, 12.2.42-23.3.44, Band 3. 

66 H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 27-31 Aug 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/13. 


1942 and made Nordlicht dependent on the situation in the bottleneck, 
the ability to assemble enough forces, and the weather. 57 Informing 
Mannerheim of these decisions, the OKW requested his participation in 
Nordlicht. The Finnish reply on 4 September stated that the Finnish 
Army Headquarters did not refuse "in principle" to participate in Nord- 
licht but described the possibilities as "extremely limited." 58 

The prospects for Nordlicht were not bright. The fighting to re- 
store the Army Group North's left flank lasted until mid-October, and 
the German High Command, from Hitler on down, was more chary of 
being caught off balance by the Russian winter than it had been a year 
earlier. On 1 October the OKH, because of the impending fall rains, 
postponed the operation until frost had set in, and three weeks later it 
made the postponement indefinite and ordered that the assembled artil- 
lery was to be used to inch the line around Leningrad forward gradually 
with as small a commitment of troops as possible. At the end of the 
month the Eleventh Army was placed under the direct control of the 
OKH and put into the line between the Army Group North and the 
Army Group Center. Nordlicht, although still ostensibly on the 
agenda, had ceased to be even a remote possibility. 59 

With Nordlicht out of the picture, the OKW informed Dietl that it 
would no longer be possible to create the necessary conditions for carry- 
ing out the Finnish Lachsfang in the late winter of 1942-1943; there- 
fore, all Lachsfang operations were canceled. The OKW intended to 
give the Twentieth Mountain Army an additional division in the com- 
ing spring which might be used to execute Lachsfang during the sum- 
mer of 1943. The army main effort for the immediate future was 
placed in the Mountain Corps Norway (in November redesignated the 
XIX Mountain Corps) zone, but there also no special measures were to 
be instituted for the time being. 60 In December Hitler ordered the 
strength of the Twentieth Mountain Army, which then stood at 172,200 
men, increased by an Air Force field regiment and a police regiment. 61 

Operations Against the Arctic Convoys 

Although the British had been sending small convoys and single ships 
to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk since the summer of 1941 and began 
large convoy movements shortly after the Beaverbrook-Harriman Mis- 

57 H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 31 Aug and 1 Sep 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/13 and 14. 
OKW, WFSt, Op., Nr. 55149/42, an GenStdH, Op. Abt., 5.9.42, in OKH, GenStdH, 
Op. Abt.IN,Band2,TeilII. H 22/225. 

58 General der Infanterie a.D. Waldemar Erfurth, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations 1940-45, June 1957. 

59 H. Gr. Nord, la, K.T.B., 1, 20, and 30 Oct 42. H. Gr. Nord 75128/15. 

60 OKW, WFSt, Op. (H), Nr. 551796/42, an (Geb.) AOK 20, 29.10.42, in 
Weisungen OKW, Fuehrer, 12.2.42-23.3.44, Band 3. 

61 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 3376/42 and OKH, GenStdH, Org. Abt., 12.11.42, in 
Anlagenband XII zum K.T.B. Nr. 2 (Geb.) AOK 20. AOK 20 27252/12. (Geb.) 
AOK 20, la, K.T.B. , Band 3, Nr. 2, 24 Nov and 14 Dec 42. AOK 20 27252/3- 


sion of October 1941, the German response was slow. This can prob- 
ably be traced to Hitler's preoccupation, particularly in the early winter 
of 1941-42, with more crucial problems elsewhere. In February 1942 
the Navy had 1 2 submarines in Norwegian waters, 6 for coastal defense 
and 6 for operations against convoys. 62 The Tirpitz, the Scheer, and 
the Prinz Eugen (damaged) were there, and their presence alone had 
an effect on Allied actions; but the Navy had no immediate intention of 
employing them directly against the convoys, partly because a fuel oil 
shortage ruled out extensive cruises by the big ships. The Fifth Air 
Force at the same time had a combat strength of 60 twin-engine bombers, 
30 dive bombers, 30 single-engine fighters, and 15 naval floatplane tor- 
pedo-bombers. 63 Generaloberst Hans-Juergen Stumpff, Commanding 
General, Fifth Air Force, had moved his headquarters to Kemi, Finland, 
in the fall of 1941. He remained there during the winter, directing the 
main air effort against Murmansk and the railroad. The uninterrupted 
darkness of the arctic winter made air operations against shipping targets 
at sea unprofitable in any case. 64 

In early March the Naval Staff, believing that the mere presence of 
the Tirpitz in Trondheim would not fully achieve the desired effect of 
tying down enemy naval forces, decided to send the battleship against 
Convoy PQ 12, which was then at sea northeast of Iceland. 65 The 
Tirpitz and five destroyers put out on 6 March. After failing to find the 
convoy in three days' cruising, they were ordered back on the 9th. The 
sortie had been a halfhearted venture from the start because of the Naval 
Staff's reluctance to risk losing the battleship. Raeder concluded that 
anticonvoy operations were too dangerous for heavy vessels without air- 
craft carrier escort, and he doubted whether they were justified in view 
of the ships' main task, the defense against landings. 66 The sole result of 
the Tirpitz operation was a decision to speed up work on the aircraft 
carrier Graf Zeppelin, which, even so, could not be ready before late 

62 Naval War Diary, Vol. 30, p. 91. 

63 The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 1 13. 

64 The Fifth Air Force for a time employed geologists in an effort to locate spots 
along the railroad where bombing might set off landslides and bury large stretches 
of track. The attempt was based on a piece of knowledge regarding arctic geology 
which the Germans had acquired at some cost. At the end of September 1941 a 
Soviet bomber, striking at the Mountain Corps Norway's only bridge across the 
Pechenga River, had dropped a stick of bombs which missed the bridge but by their 
concussion caved in both banks of the river, completely burying the bridge, and 
damming the river. It was found that at the site of the catastrophe a layer of glacial 
drift (sand and rocks) had been laid down over a substratum of oceanic sediment. 
The latter, having never dried out, remained extremely unstable. Wherever it 
was cut, as by a river, it sustained its own weight and that of the glacial drift above 
it only in the most precarious sort of equilibrium. Similar conditions were known 
to exist throughout northern Finland and the Kola Peninsula, but the Germans did 
not succeed in exploiting them in their attacks on the Murmansk Railroad. 

65 Convoys sailing east to Russian arctic ports were given PQ numbers, those re- 
turning QP numbers. 

66 Naval War Diary, Vol. 31, pp. 20, 53, 56, 75, 81, 85. 


In mid-March, after a dozen PQ convoys had made the run to 
Murmansk in comparative safety, Hitler issued the first order for inten- 
sive anticonvoy operations. Stating that the convoys could be used both 
to maintain Russia's capacity for resistance and for staging a landing 
on the German-held arctic coast, he ordered the sea traffic, "which so 
far has hardly been touched," interdicted. The Navy was to increase 
its U-boat commitment, and the Air Force to strengthen its long-range 
reconnaissance and bomber forces and to move up torpedo-bombers. 
The Air Force was to keep Murmansk under constant bombardment, 
reconnoiter the sea area between Bear Island and the Murman Coast, 
and operate against convoys and enemy warships. 67 

The first result of the Hitler order was a Fifth Air Force proposal to 
occupy Spitzbergen and use the airfield there to attack the convoys from 
both sides. The Army of Norway thought a battalion, which would 
take along supplies for one year, would be enough to hold the island, but 
the OKW believed an occupation would tie down too much naval and 
air strength in defensive operations without offering any decisive advan- 
tages since, during nearly all of the year, the pack ice forced convoys to 
pass within 300 miles of German air bases in Norway. On 22 March 
Hitler decided against the proposal. 68 

In April PQ 13 and PQ 14 sailed, but bad weather and the spring 
thaw, which temporarily rendered the northern airfields unusable, ham- 
pered German operations. PQ 14 encountered pack ice north of Ice- 
land, and 14 of its 23 ships turned back. PQ 13 lost 5 ships out of 19, 
and the Trinidad, one of the cruiser escorts, was torpedoed and later 
sank. German destroyers were sent out but because of inadequate re- 
connaissance could not make contact with the convoy. Again the Ger- 
mans were fearful of risking their ships against a superior enemy force. 69 

By late April the build-up Hitler had ordered was taking effect. The 
Navy had 20 submarines stationed in Norway, 8 for defense and 12 for 
use against convoys; and the Air Force had moved in 12 newly con- 
verted twin-engine torpedo-bombers (He. 111). On 2 May nine tor- 
pedo-bombers on their first mission in the Arctic attacked PQ 15 and 
reported three sinkings. At the end of the month submarine opera- 
tions, except against isolated, unescorted ships, became too dangerous 
because of the increased length of daylight, but the air build-up con- 
tinued. On 27 May 100 twin-engine Ju. 88's and a number of He. Ill 
torpedo-bombers attacked PQ 16 and claimed 9 sinkings. The opera- 
tions against PQ 16 showed that high-level dive bombing combined with 

67 Der Fuehrer und Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht, OKW, WFSt, Op. (M), 
Nr. 55493 /42, 14.3.42. OKW /l 19. 

6 ' s OKW, WFSt, Op., Nr. 55518/42, Vortragnotiz, 13.3.42 and OKW, WFSt, Op. 
(M), Nr. 55537/42, Betr.: Spitzbergen, 22.3.42. OKW/119. W.B. Norwegen, la, 
Nr. 16/42, an OKW, WFSt (Op), 13.3.42, 'm AOK Norwegen, Chefsachen allgemein, 
21.9.40-1.5.42. AOK 20 35641. 

69 Churchill, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 257. Naval War Diary, Vol. 32, pp. 13-18 and 
30 Apr 42. 


torpedo attacks launched from just above water level could dissipate and 
confuse the convoy defenses. 70 

In early June agents reported PQ 1 7 forming off the southwest coast 
of Iceland. With that much advance warning and 24-hour daylight in 
the arctic area to assure good reconnaissance, the Navy planned another 
attempt to get its heavy vessels into action. The Luetzow, the Scheer, 
and six destroyers were to go to Alta Fiord, and the Tirpitz, the Hipper, 
and six destroyers were to be posted in the West Fiord. After PQ 17 
left Iceland on 27 June, the Navy learned that aside from cruisers and 
destroyers it had also to contend with a remote escort of two battleships 
and an aircraft carrier. It then altered the plan and ordered all the 
ships to Alta Fiord where German air superiority would be sufficient to 
drive off the enemy's heavy ships. In making the shift the Luetzow 
ran aground, damaging its bottom. Similar mishaps temporarily dis- 
abled four of the destroyers. 

As PQ 17 approached the Spitzbergen-Bear Island passage the time 
to strike had come, but the battleships and aircraft carrier posed a stand- 
ing threat, and on 4 July the Naval Staff decided a strike would be 
impossible. On the following day its confidence revived when the 
battleships, aircraft carriers, and cruisers were sighted steering west. 
They were under orders, of which the Germans were unaware, not to 
advance Into the zone of German air dominance east of Spitzbergen- 
Bear Island unless the Tirpitz put in an appearance. The Naval Staff 
decided to let the operation begin, but Hitler interposed a strong in- 
junction against risking an attack unless the enemy carrier had been 
located and eliminated. In the afternoon the Tirpitz, the Scheer, the 
Hipper, and eight destroyers put out from Alta Fiord, only to be ordered 
back a few hours later when enemy radio traffic indicated that they had 
been sighted. 

Reviewing the operation Raeder concluded that to attack convoys 
with heavy ships was rendered difficult by Hitler's insistence on avoiding 
losses or setbacks at all cost. PQ 17, he maintained, offered an oppor- 
tunity which had never occurred before and was not likely to appear 
again ; therefore it was probable that the big ships would never be used 
against convoys. Undoubtedly, Hitler's excessive concern with preserv- 
ing strong naval forces for the defense of Norway made him overly cau- 
tious where the battleships were concerned; nevertheless, Raeder's own 
stanch adherence to the "fleet in being" theory probably played a greater 
part in the decision to call off the operation than the admiral was willing 
to admit after the opportunity had been lost. 71 

70 Generalmajor a.D. Hans-Detlev Herhudt von Rohden, "Die Kampffuehrung der 
Luftlotte 5 in Norwegen, 1942." Von Rohden 4376-408. Naval War Diary, Vol. 
34, 27 May 1942. Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, pp. 113ff. 

'"■Naval War Diary, Vol. 35, pp. 36ff, 57, 70-72, and 97. Fuehrer Conferences, 
1942, pp. 86 and 91-93. Churchill, op. cit., Vol. IV, pp. 263-65. 


Although the Navy hesitated, the Fifth Air Force was in a position to 
strike with devastating power. By the time PQ 1 7 sailed, Stumpff had 
assembled, in the vicinity of North Gape, 103 twin-engine bombers 
(Ju. 88), 42 twin-engine torpedo-bombers (He. Ill), 15 floatplane tor- 
pedo-bombers (He. 115), 30 dive bombers (Ju. 87), and 74 long-range 
reconnaissance planes (FW. 200, Ju. 88, and BV. 138), a total of 264 
combat aircraft. On 2 July reconnaissance reported the position and 
course of PQ 17, and on the 4th the bombers and torpedo-planes began 
their attack, claiming four sinkings in the first strike. During the day, 
the cruisers turned back, and that night the Admiralty ordered the de- 
stroyers back, instructing the nearly defenseless merchant ships to dis- 
perse. Thereafter the planes of the Fifth Air Force hunted down scat- 
tered elements of PQ 17 almost at leisure. The Germans claimed 
destruction of the convoy down to its last ship; the British figures con- 
cede a loss of 23 ships out of 34. 72 

The PQ 17 disaster led the British Admiralty to propose stopping 
convoy traffic in the Arctic until after the period of long daylight. Stalin 
protested violently. As a compromise, after an interval of nearly two 
months, PQ 1 8 sailed in early September. The Fifth Air Force had in- 
creased its torpedo-bomber strength to 92 planes, and the Navy was 
prepared to commit as many as 12 submarines. The Tirpitz, the S cheer, 
the Hipper, and the Koeln were readied for a sortie against PQ 18 or 
westbound QP 14, which was expected at the same time, were an 
opportunity to occur. Again there was a fly in the ointment, an aircraft 
carrier escort. The Navy organized 7 submarines into a special group 
Traegertod (carrier's death), and the Fifth Air Force decided to direct 
its main effort against the carrier. 

On 13 September, as PQ 18 entered the Spitzbergen-Bear Island 
passage, a submarine fired two torpedoes at the carrier and missed. On 
the same day the Fifth Air Force opened its attack with a strike by 56 
bombers. The bombers found they could not approach the carrier 
which was strongly defended by its own aircraft. They also found it 
difficult to get at the merchant ships, which maintained a tight for- 
mation inside a screen of 12 destroyers. On the 14th 54 bombers re- 
peated the attempt. The attacks continued until 19 September but with 
diminishing success because of bad weather. The British announced a 
loss of 13 ships out of 40, which approximately agrees with German 
estimates. The price was also high for the Fifth Air Force which lost 
20 bombers in the first two strikes. When the carrier continued on past 
Spitzbergen with PQ 18 and then picked up OP 14 on the return trip, 
the battleship sortie was abandoned. In fact, even the submarines were 
instructed to avoid QP 14 since experience with PQ 18 had demon- 

n Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 114. Churchill, op. cit., Vol. IV, 
pp. 263-65. Rohden, "Die Kampffuehrung der Luftflotte 5 in Norwegen, 1942." 
Von Rohden 4376-408. 


strated that attacks on convoys with surface and air protection were too 
risky. 73 

After PQ 18 put in at Arkhangel'sk, thus mollifying Stalin for the 
time being, arctic convoys were again suspended. Snipping require- 
ments of the North African invasion helped to justify the suspension. 
The landings in North Africa on 8 November also had a significant in- 
fluence on the disposition of German anticonvoy forces. All of the 
Fifth Air Force's torpedo-bombers and most of its twin-engine bombers 
had to be shifted to the Mediterranean, leaving only the slow floatplanes, 
some dive bombers, and the long-range reconnaissance units. With the 
winter darkness setting in and conditions for air operations becoming 
poor the loss had no great immediate significance. What was important 
was that the German Air Force would never again be able to muster 
similar strength in the Arctic. 74 

In December, taking advantage of the season, the arctic convoys were 
resumed ; and the German Navy, in what was to prove a fateful decision, 
planned another attempt at bringing its heavy vessels into action. The 
Hipper, the Luetzow, and five destroyers were stationed in Alta Fiord. 
On 30 December the task force put to sea after a submarine reported 
Convoy JW 51 B south of Bear Island (JW 51 A had passed earlier in 
the month without being sighted) . 75 Early the next morning the Ger- 
man ships approached the convoy and were immediately engaged by 
the destroyer escort. The Luetzow managed to bring the merchantmen 
under fire briefly at long range; but, when two British cruisers appeared, 
damaging the Hipper with their first salvo, the Germans promptly broke 
off the action in accordance with their standing orders not to risk the 
ships against equal or superior forces. The operation ended as a total 
failure with the merchant ships scarcely touched. The Germans lost 
one destroyer and the British a destroyer and a minesweeper. 

The Navy had planned the sortie as a routine operation, dependent 
for its outcome largely on luck. It learned too late that Hitler, who was 
having troubles in North Africa and at Stalingrad among other places, 
had been counting on a major victory and was enraged by the failure. 
On 6 January 1943 Hitler called in Raeder and after a harangue on 
the poor performance of the German Navy in all wars since 1866, an- 
nounced his intention to take the battleships out of commission. Raeder, 
as the chief exponent of the big ships, offered his resignation and pro- 
posed Doenitz, the submarine specialist, as his successor. Both were 
immediately accepted, and at the end of the month Hitler ordered all 

3 Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 115. Naval War Diary, Vol. 37, pp. 
143, 153, 165, 176, 212, and 224ff. Rohden, "Die Kampffuehrung der Luftflotte 
5 inNorwegen, 1942." Rohden 4376-408. 

74 Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 115. 

78 After PQ 18 the arctic convoys were given JW numbers eastbound and RA 
numbers westbound, starting with 51. 


vessels larger than destroyers decommissioned. In February Doenitz 
succeeded in getting the order reversed to the extent of allowing the 
Tirpitz and the Luetzow (and later the Scharnhorst) to remain in Nor- 
way ; nevertheless, the sortie against JW 5 1 A had clearly been a near- 
fatal blow to the German high seas fleet. 76 

™Naval War Diary, Vol. 40, pp. 5, 12, 31; Vol. 41, pp. 3, 18, 100, 463, 465; and 
Vol. 42, pp. 202,410. 


Chapter 12 
In the Backwater of War 

The Stagnant Front 

The new year, 1943, dawned bleak on the Eastern Front. In the 
south, at Stalingrad, the fate of the German Sixth Army was sealed; 
and in the north, on 12 January, the Russians opened an offensive to 
drive a wedge between Lake Ladoga and the left flank of the Army 
Group North. In six days they broke through, pushed the Army Group 
North back from the lake, and reestablished land contact with Lenin- 
grad. Although the Army Group North, in heavy fighting that lasted 
two and one-half months and cost the Russians some 270,000 men, man- 
aged to restrict the Russian gain to a corridor six miles wide, which 
could be brought under artillery fire and so constituted only a token 
relief of Leningrad, the development had a severe psychological effect in 
Finland. 1 It brought an immediate reaction from Mannerheim in the 
form of a request to Dietl for return of four of the five (later also the 
fifth) Finnish battalions still with the Twentieth Mountain Army. Dietl 
was reluctant to part with the battalions since their personnel, mostly 
native to northern Finland, far surpassed German troops at the vital 
task of protecting the open flanks of his corps. Moreover, it was clear 
that, since the number of troops involved was small, Mannerheim's 
request was primarily an expression, thinly disguised, of declining confi- 
dence in his German "broth ers-in-arms." The OKW, probably believ- 
ing that the situation would not be helped by descending to a squabble 
over battalions, ordered the Twentieth Mountain Army to return four 
of the battalions as quickly as replacements could be found, retaining 
only the fifth, the "Ivalo" Battalion, which was essential for the defense 
of Pechenga. 2 

As far as German planning for operations in Finland was concerned, 
the withdrawal south of Lake Ladoga and Mannerheim's reaction to it 
only confirmed the correctness of decisions already made. A conference 

1 H. Gr. Nord, la, 13000/44, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjet-Union der Heeres- 
gruppe Nord, Kriegsjahr 1943, 24.12.44. 

2 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 133/43, an OKW, WFSt, 29.1.43, in K.T.B. Nr. 2, 
Anlagenband I. AOK 20 36560/2. (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 2, 
Erstausfertigung, 13 and 16 Feb 43. AOK 20 36560/1. 


at Fuehrer Headquarters on 14 January had decided that there was 
almost no chance of the Twentieth Mountain Army's being given an 
offensive mission in the year 1943. In the north it was not strong enough 
to take and hold the Rybatchiy Peninsula. An operation against Kanda- 
laksha would require a simultaneous Finnish drive to Belomorsk, which 
was not expected, and at least an additional division plus two regiments 
for the Twentieth Mountain Army, which could not be spared elsewhere. 
The Twentieth Mountain Army was to remain prepared to beat off a 
British-American landing which might be aided by a Russian offensive 
or Swedish intervention. 3 In spite of the strained situation on the main 
front, the OKW did not intend to pull troops out of the Twentieth 
Mountain Army sector. 

The conference had come to a thoroughly negative estimate of Fin- 
nish capabilities. The strength of the Finns, it had concluded, had been 
overestimated. They had no inclination for a large-scale offensive ; more 
serious still, if the Russians launched a major attack against them, set- 
backs were to be expected. Their defenses were poorly constructed, 
they had few reserves, and their army was not imbued with the spirit of 
holding to the last man. Their greatest asset, it was decided, was the 
terrain, which made a Russian attack unlikely in the foreseeable future. 4 

While the Germans were engaged in writing off Finland as a positive 
element in their military situation, the Finns were taking a long, cold 
look at the whole war. On 3 February, the day after the Sixth Army 
surrendered at Stalingrad, Mannerheim, Ryti, and several members of 
the Cabinet, meeting at Mikkeli, concluded that the war had passed a 
decisive turning point and that for Finland it had become necessary to 
get out at the first opportunity. Six days later, in a secret session, Par- 
liament was informed that Germany could no longer win and that Fin- 
land, tied to Germany for the immediate future at least, would have to 
accustom itself to thinking in terms of another Treaty of Moscow 
(1940). 5 

What appeared to be a ray of hope for Finland was not long in com- 
ing. The re-election of Ryti in mid-February provided an opportunity 
for changing the Cabinet; and Dr. Henrik Ramsay, who was reputed 
to have connections in Great Britain and the United States, replaced 
Witting as Foreign Minister. To the new Foreign Minister the United 
States State Department on 20 March transmitted an offer to establish 
contact between Finland and the Soviet Union. 

New to diplomacy and certainly not acquainted with the personality 
of Ribbentrop, Ramsay decided to take the matter to Berlin in the hope 
of paving the way for Finland's withdrawal from the war by a friendly 
agreement. Ribbentrop, dispelling his illusions in short order, told him 

3 For estimates of Swedish intentions, see below, pp. 252ff . 

4 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Zeitenfolge des O.B.-Besuchs beim Fuehrer und Obersten 
Befehlshaber, 14.1.43, in K.T.B. Nr. 2, Anlagenband I. AOK 20 36560/2. 

5 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 49 Iff. 


that Germany was also fighting the war for Finland and the German 
people would not appreciate having Finland "cast come-hither looks" 
at the Russians. He then confronted Ramsay with two demands: the 
first for a prompt rejection of the United States offer and the second for 
a public declaration that Finland would not negotiate a separate peace. 
The first was not too painful to meet since subsequent developments re- 
vealed that the United States merely intended to establish direct contact 
between the parties, not to mediate. But the second, if complied with, 
would have meant abandoning the independent status as a cobelligerent 
which Finland had claimed since the start of the war. The Finnish 
Government delayed until 16 May when the Prime Minister gave a 
speech in which he stated that Finland would fight to the end rather than 
throw itself on the mercy of its eastern neighbor. The text was trans- 
mitted to Berlin with an explanation that it constituted the official Fin- 
nish attitude. The Finns had gone far enough to avoid jeopardizing 
their badly needed imports from Germany but not far enough to please 
Ribbentrop who called home for two months his minister in Helsinki. 8 

In mid-March, to coordinate planning for the entire Scandinavian 
area, the Operations Staff, OKW, called in the Chief of Staff, Twentieth 
Mountain Army, and the Operations Officer, Army of Norway. It was 
agreed that a landing by British-American forces on the north coast of 
Norway or Finland was possible, but that they could succeed in driving 
the Germans out of Scandinavia only if the landing were accompanied 
by a simultaneous Soviet offensive, which the OKW regarded as im- 
probable because of mistrust among the Allies. The Twentieth Moun- 
tain Army considered a Soviet offensive of any kind unlikely; it had 
reported a month earlier that the Russians had drawn at least three 
rifle divisions and two rifle brigades out of their front in the north, an 
indication that they neither expected nor planned an attack. As a basis 
for planning, the OKW proposed it could be assumed Finland's status 
would not change unless a Soviet offensive directly threatened southern 
Finland or a successful British-American landing brought Sweden into 
the war against Germany. 

Describing the position of Finland, the Chief of Staff, Twentieth 
Mountain Army, stated that, since Stalingrad, opinion in Finland had 
decidedly shifted against Germany, and the Finnish Government no 
longer believed in a German victory. Pessimism was particularly strong 
in Mannerheim's headquarters, at least partly the result, he believed, of 
the dark picture General Talvela, then liaison officer at the OKH, was 
painting of the German situation. The Finns, he thought, were pre- 
paring to shift their course, and only a great German victory in the 
summer of 1943 could prevent their making a determined effort to de- 
fect. Whether Finland could get an acceptable peace was another 
question since it did not appear that either Great Britain or the United 

Bluecher, op. cit., pp. 320-34. Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 493ff. 


States would be able to offer any substantial guarantees, and without 
them Finland would be completely at the mercy of the Soviet Union. 
The Chief of the Operations Staff, OKW, Jodl, on the other hand, 
stated the belief that the Finns, while protecting their own national in- 
terest, would keep faith with Germany. To counteract the pessimism he 
proposed to ask that Talvela be recalled. For the future, he expected 
an operation against Leningrad, planned for the summer, to have a 
beneficial effect "on the entire northern area." 7 

While the highest headquarters in Germany and Finland were at- 
tempting to discover which way the wind would blow, the front from the 
Gulf of Finland to Litsa Bay was dead quiet, a condition which had 
persisted with very minor interruptions since the Soviet spring offensive 
of 1942. At one point the Twentieth Mountain Army and the OKW 
found themselves engaged in a desultory argument over whether the 
army front should be designated as "the front without combat activity" 
(Front ohne Kampfhandlungen) , which the OKW had adopted, or as 
"the front without extensive combat activity" (Front ohne groessere 
Kampfhandlungen), which the Twentieth Mountain Army favored on 
the grounds that numbers of casualties were still being reported. 

In the far north the greatest problem of the XIX Mountain Corps, 
because it remained dependent on the sea route around Norway, was 
supply; but even that affected the building up of reserves rather than 
current needs. The front on the Litsa which had been the scene of the 
1941 and 1942 fighting had been built up into a strong line of inter- 
connecting strong points. Because construction was difficult in the 
rocky terrain, completely satisfactory positions there could not be com- 
pleted until the summer of 1944. The troops were housed in huts be- 
hind the line, which, except in emergencies, was manned by a skeleton 
force. The climate imposed hardships but, at the same time, was re- 
sponsible for an extraordinarily low sickness rate. South of the Litsa 
front a screening line of strong points, at intervals of 1 to 3 miles in the 
north but 8, 10, and more miles over most of its length, extended to the 
level of Ivalo. Between the flanks of the XIX Mountain Corps and the 
XXXVI Mountain Corps the front was open for a distance of one hun- 
dred miles and more. On the coast the Divisionsgruppe Rossi had 
been created to defend the Pechenga area while the 210th Infantry 
Division was responsible for the zone east to the Army of Norway 
boundary. The nickel mines were the most remarkable installation in 
the XIX Mountain Corps area. At Hitler's order, the processing 
installations and power plants were being moved underground or into 
bomb-proof concrete structures as quickly as those could be built. A 

7 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Besptechungsnotiz anlaesslich der Anwesenheit des Chefs 
des Gen.-St. {Geb.) AOK 20, Generalmajor Jodl, im OKW vom 16.-17.3.43, in 
(Geb.) AOK 20, la, K.T.B. Nr. 2, Anlagenband III. AOK 20 36560/4. OKW, 
WFSt, K.T.B., 18 Feb and 10 Mar 43. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 


Troop quarters on the LilSa front. 

regiment of infantry with artillery guarded the mines, which reputedly 
had stronger antiaircraft defenses than any other spot on the Eastern 

The XXXVI Mountain Corps, in a line which had not changed since 
the fall of 1941 , and the XVIII Mountain Corps had constructed strong 
positions on their immediate fronts with screens of strong points off the 
flanks. Lumber was available in plentiful supply, and the troops were 
housed in barracks. Conditions were similar on the Finnish Army 
front, where the Finns' skill in carpentry had produced structures which 
were not only serviceable but often decorative as well. All in all, the 
forces in Finland were on a near peacetime basis. 

The quiet was ominous for it signified that the enemy believed the 
fate of the Twentieth Mountain Army and the Finnish nation was sealed 
and that he was biding his time before bringing down the final curtain. 
In Finland all eyes were turned south to the main front where the two 
vital questions were whether the German armies could establish a line 
that would hold and whether the Army Group North, in particular, 
could keep its grip on Leningrad. Both were questions of life or death 
for Finland, the latter being of the greatest immediate importance be- 
cause, once Leningrad had been liberated, the Russians could turn north 
on the Isthmus of Karelia, strike at the heart of Finland, and knock her 
out of the war regardless of what happened elsewhere. The danger was 
heightened by the fact that, aside from the city's strategic significance 
in relation to Finland, the Soviet Union had made Leningrad a national 
symbol and its liberation a matter of prestige. 

* Generalleutnant, a.D. Hans Degen, Drekinkatb jahre Polnrkrieg. MS D-337. 


Knowing the importance of Leningrad to Finland and, therefore, to 
the entire German position in Scandinavia, Hitler on 1 3 March ordered 
the Army Group North to prepare an operation, timed for late summer, 
for the capture of Leningrad. 9 Even at the time it was issued, Hitler's 
order rested on a questionable assumption — that the Army Group North, 
which was completely on the defensive, would be able to regain the 
initiative long enough to stage an offensive. The army group itself 
reported that the enemy had two operational possibilities which he was 
certain to pursue to the limit of his ability in 1943. The first was to 
push the Germans back from Leningrad, as he had already attempted 
during the winter. The other was to strike south of Lake Ilmen at the 
junction of the Army Groups North and Center, split the two German 
forces, and drive the Army Group North back against the Baltic coast. 10 
There was no real certainty that the Army Group North could prevent 
him from doing either. 

During the relatively quiet months of the spring Kuechler's staff 
planned Operation Parkplatz, the taking of Leningrad. Much of the 
siege artillery brought up in 1942 was still in the army group area, but 
reinforcements of eight or nine divisions would be needed, and those 
could not be made available until after the Army Group South had 
completed Operation Zittadelle to pinch off the giant salient which 
had remained west of Kursk after the winter battles. 11 

Zittadelle was launched on 5 July only to be stopped within a week. 
It was then turned into a crushing defeat by a massive Soviet counter- 
offensive which broke through the German line on the Donets River at 
the end of the month and in the next two months was to drive the Army 
Group South back from the Donets to the Dnepr. Once their offensive 
was rolling in the south the Russians turned to the north and on 22 
July opened a second full-scale attempt to free Leningrad. 12 With a 
catastrophe brewing in the south and another possible in the north, the 
OKH on 31 July ordered the Army Group North to set up a special staff 
for the purpose of laying out a line of defensive positions along the Narva 
River and the west shore of Lake Peipus, 1 25 miles southwest of Lenin- 
grad. 13 Operation Parkplatz was forgotten. 

In Finland, as the summer passed, apprehension grew. In July the 
Finnish SS-battalion was returned to Finland at Mannerheim's request 
and disbanded. During the same month, Finland rejected a Soviet 
oral offer to discuss peace, delivered through its legation in Stockholm. 

"OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., Nr. 430 163/43, Operationsbefehl Nr. 5, 13.3.43. 
OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 17 Mar 43. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 1786-PS. 

10 Oberkommando Heeresgruppe Nord, la, Nr. 037/42, Beurteilung der Lage der 
Heeresgruppe Nord, 18.4.43, in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., I/N, Band I, Nord. 
H 22/223. 

11 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt. I/N, Parkplatz. H 22/281. 

12 H. Gr. Nord, la, 13000/44, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjet-Union der Heeres- 
gruppe Nord, Kriegsjahr 1943, 24.12.44. 

13 OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., Nr. 430493, an H. Gr. Nord, 2.8.43-[Z 1.7 A3 orally], 
in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., I/N, Band I, Nord. H 22/223. 


About the same time, the Finns, through their legation in Lisbon, in- 
formed the United States that they would not join in resistance to a 
United States invasion of northern Norway. 14 In August, with the tide 
clearly turned against Germany in the south, three members of Parlia- 
ment delivered to Ryti a petition signed by 33 prominent men in which 
it was stated that Finland was slipping into a dangerous situation. The 
President was asked to take steps toward restoring good relations and 
mutual confidence with the United States and toward getting Finland 
out of the war. 16 Later in the month publication of the contents of the 
petition in a Swedish newspaper touched off a press and public discus- 
sion which heavily favored a separate peace. 

With anxiety already growing, Finland in September was threatened 
with the development which it feared most. The Army Group North, 
after a month of Soviet attacks, was holding around Leningrad by the 
skin of its teeth and was working desperately to build the so-called 
Panther Position, the Narva River-Lake Peipus line. Even to the 
inexperienced observer it was clear that a withdrawal, which was al- 
ready the decision of choice, might at any moment be forced on the army 

Replying to an OKW request for an opinion, the Twentieth -Moun- 
tain Army on 14 September stated that the Army Group North should 
not be pulled back under any circumstances. The Finns, the army 
memorandum went on, already felt betrayed because the capture of 
Leningrad had been repeatedly promised and never carried out, even in 
times when, in their opinion, it had been possible. Once the Army 
Group North fell back to Lake Peipus the Finnish Aunus and Maaselka 
Fronts would project into Soviet territory like a spearhead and have to be 
withdrawn under circumstances which made the establishment of a ten- 
able line to the rear doubtful at best. More than likely, a shift in 
governments would result, bringing to power a regime oriented toward 
Russia. If the Russians then offered bearable peace conditions Finland 
would leave the war and the Twentieth Mountain Army would have to 
find its way out of Finland, an undertaking which in wintertime over 
the poor roads of northern Finland and Norway would be extremely 
hazardous. 16 A week later the Finnish Government warned, through 
both the German Minister in Helsinki and their own Minister in Berlin, 
that a withdrawal from the area south and west of Leningrad would 
have the most serious consequences for Finland. 17 At the end of the 

14 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 497ff. 

15 Auswaertiges Amt, No. Pol. VI 1091, an das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 
30.8.43, in OKW, Ag. Ausland, Akte Finnland. OKW/1040. 

16 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 12/43, an OKW, WFSt, z. Hd. Gen. d. Art. Jodl, 
14.9.43, in Anlagen zum Chefsachen-K.T.B., {Geb.) AOK 20, la, 1.7.43-31.12.43. 
AOK 20 43871/10. 

17 Auswaertiges Amt, Pol. VI 9259, an das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 
22.9.43, in OKW, Ag. Ausland, Akte Finnland. OKW/1040. Bluecher, op. cit., 
p. 341. 


month, the Commanding General, XXXVI Mountain Corps, reported 
after a trip to Helsinki that fear of a withdrawal from Leningrad domi- 
nated Finnish thinking. 18 

The tragic element in the Finnish situation was heightened by the 
fact that at no time in the war had local tactical conditions been more 
favorable for a Finnish- German offensive. The Finnish Minister of 
Defense told the Commanding General, XXXVI Mountain Corps, that 
on its front Finland had roughly 400,000 men while the Russians op- 
posite them numbered between 160,000 and 180,000. 19 The Twentieth 
Mountain Army had over 1 70,000 combat troops facing approximately 
90,000 Russians. The Finns' refusal to exploit that clear 2 : 1 superiority 
drew some criticism from the German side, both at the time and after 
the war. The German opinion was that Finland did not want to risk 
a complete breach with the United States. 20 In reality, there was no 
way an offensive out of Finland could have permanently influenced the 
course of events. The Murmansk Railroad could possibly have been cut, 
but by then it was no longer vital to the Russian war effort; Soviet 
production had increased and supplies from the West were moving 
through the Persian Gulf. A strong Finnish thrust on the Isthmus of 
Karelia, which might have relieved the situation of the Army Group 
North temporarily, would in the long run have been suicidal for the 
Finnish nation. 

On 24 September the Russian pressure south of Leningrad slacked 
off, but unmistakable signs of trouble had cropped up on the Army 
Group North-Army Group Center boundary east of Nevel. 21 A suc- 
cessful breakthrough there, properly exploited, threatened to bring about 
a collapse of the entire Army Group North front. 

On 28 September the Twentieth Mountain Army received Fuehrer 
Directive No, 50. By way of explanation Hitler stated that the situation 
of the Army Group North was "completely stabilized," that the danger 
point on the Army Group North— Army Group Center boundary was 
being reinforced, but that in order to be prepared for unfavorable devel- 
opments the army group was constructing positions on the Narva River- 
Lake Peipus line. It had also become necessary to take measures in 
anticipation of Finland's possible withdrawal from the war. 22 In that 
case the mission of the Twentieth Mountain Army would be to swing 
the XXXVI Mountain Corps and the XVIII Mountain Corps back 

™Der Kommandierende General des XXXVI {Geb.) A.K., la, Nr. 252/43, 
Militaerpolitische Eindruecke auf meiner Suedfinnlandreise, 28.9.43, in Anlagen zum 
Chefsachen-K.T.B., {Geb.) AOK 20, la, 11.7.43-31.12.43. AOK 20 43871/10. 

19 Ibid. 

*° Erfurth, op. cit., p. 1 19. Dietl, op. cit., p. 259. 

21 H. Gr. Nord, la, 13000/44, Der Feldzug gegen die Souijet-Union der Heeres- 
gruppe Nord, Kriegsjahr 1943, 24.12.44. 

22 The Operations Staff, OKW, had told Hitler three days earlier that signs of a 
peace move in Finland were increasing and a complete shift on the part of Finland 
was to be expected if the Army Group North fell back. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 28 
Sep 43. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 1790-PS. 


to a line across northern Finland south of Ivalo and defend the nickel 
mining region as long as might be necessary. When the time came, the 
Twentieth Mountain Army would be given two additional divisions from 
the Army of Norway. Construction and supply preparations were to 
begin immediately. 23 

On 6 October the expected Soviet offensive east of Nevel began, and 
in three days the flanks of the Army Group North and the Army Group 
Center had lost contact. In that dangerous situation Mannerheim re- 
verted to a request which he had raised tentatively and been persuaded 
to withdraw earlier: he asked permission to begin preparing defensive 
positions behind the Twentieth Mountain Army lines for the event of a 
German withdrawal from Finland. This signal mark of failing confi- 
dence led Erfurth to ask that the OKW send a top-level representative 
immediately. 24 On the 14th Jodl flew to Helsinki and in two days of 
conferences with Mannerheim and the Finnish Minister of Defense de- 
scribed the war situation as seen from the German side. The defection 
of Italy, he explained, was not significant militarily since that nation had 
never constituted an element of strength in the alliance. As far as an 
invasion of France was concerned, Germany would welcome it as an 
opportunity to deal Great Britain and the United States a resounding 
defeat, put an end to second front plans, and free troops for the Eastern 
Front. At Leningrad, he admitted, the situation was dangerous; and 
there had been a thought of pulling the northern flank back; but, out of 
consideration for Finland, Germany had abstained from following that 
course. Germany, he let it be known, was aware of Finnish efforts to 
get out of the war and took the attitude that no nation could ask another 
to risk destruction for its sake; but, he pointed out, Finland's future in 
the clutches of Stalin would not be bright. 25 

While not concurring in all of the points of his analysis, the Finns 
were impressed by JodPs presentation — and by a letter Jodl brought with 
him in which Hitler took Ryti to task over the lack of discipline in Fin- 
nish internal policy and the unfriendly attitude of the Finnish press to- 
ward Germany. 2 " Under both these influences the Finnish Minister of 
Defense a week later promised Dietl the "truest brotherhood in arms" 
and assured him that the newspaper talk of a separate peace was ground- 
less. Jodl, he said, had explained the total situation "openly and com- 
pletely." 27 At the end of the month Ryti replied to Hitler in a letter, 
which, while it contained no specific commitments, was taken to be 
positive in tone. 28 

23 OKW, WFSt, Op., Nr. 662375/43, Weisung Nr. 50, 28.9.43 in Anlagen zum 
Chefsachen-K.T.B., (Geb.) AOK 20, la, 1.7.43-31.12.43. AOK 20 43871/10. 
* OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 15 Oct 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1790-PS. 
35 Mannerheim, op. cit., vd. 498ff. 

26 Dietl, op. cit.,p. 261. 

27 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Aktennotiz ueber die Besprechung mit dem ftnnischen 
Verteidigungsminister, General der Infanterie Walden, 25.10.43, in (Geb.) AOK 
20, la, K.T.B., Anlagenband Oktober 1943. AOK 20 43871/5. 

28 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 30 Oct 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1790. 


While Jodl was in Mikkeli the Twentieth Mountain Army took the 
opportunity to raise its objections to Directive 50. Even though the 
army, possessing an eight to nine months' stockpile of fuel, rations, and 
ammunition, was the best supplied of the German armies, it saw no 
prospect of being able to hold out in northern Finland for a prolonged 
period. Neither the Navy nor the Air Force, it believed, was capable 
of preventing the enemy's cutting its sea supply lines around Norway 
and at the same time interdicting the ore traffic. The army saw itself 
stranded, dissipating its supplies in an effort to hold mines which could 
not be exploited. Jodl and the OKW agreed with the army position 
in general but did not believe it would be possible, in any event, to with- 
draw across the Baltic Sea, as the Twentieth Mountain Army proposed, 
and did not want to risk giving up the mines prematurely. 29 

After the Jodl mission, as the year drew to a close, it appeared that a 
measure of stability had been restored in German-Finnish relations, and 
Hitler ordered that Directive 50 be regarded for the time being as a 
stand-by measure. The balance was delicate. In late October Man- 
nerheim renewed his request for permission to lay out defensive positions 
behind the German lines, and in November Finland resumed its contact 
with the Soviet Union. 30 In the fighting around Nevel, the Army Group 
North was being spared complete disaster as much through lack of dar- 
ing and imagination on the part of the Soviet leadership as through its 
own efforts. The Nevel operation had been staged to tie down German 
forces in the north while the main Soviet offensive proceeded in the 
south; therefore, the Russians were slow in exploiting their break- 
through. At the end of October and again in December the Army 
Group North warned that, if the enemy succeeded in expanding the 
breakthrough at Nevel, the Panther Position would be outflanked and 
the entire army group front would collapse. 31 Toward the end of De- 
cember Hitler began seriously to consider taking Army Group North 
back to the Panther Position in order to gain a dozen or so divisions for 
the southern flank of the Eastern Front where the Russians were threat- 
ening the Crimea and were about to retake the iron and manganese 
mines at Krivoi Rog and Nikopol. While such a move would place 
greater pressure on the Finnish front, he believed the Finns would still 
have to fight and might thus even afford some relief for the German 
main front. But to lose more ground in southern Russia, he thought, 
might bring Turkey into the war and so add to the burden on Germany. 

29 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Besprechungspunkte zwischen Chef OKW/WFSt und 
Chef {Geb.) AOK 20 am 14.10.43 in Mikkeli, in Anlagen zum Chefsachen-K.T.B., 
{Geb.) AOK 20, la, 1.7.43-31.12.43. AOK 20 43871/10. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 
19 Oct 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1790-PS. 

30 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 25 Oct and 16 Dec 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1790-PS. Man- 
nerheim, op. cit., p. 500. 

31 H. Gr. Nord., Ia, 154/43, Beurteilung der Lage, 28.10.42, and OKH, GenStdH, 
Op. Abt., I/N, Nr. 430765/43, Abschrift von Fernschreiben, Beurteilung der Lage 
der H. Gr. Nord vom 13.12.43, in OKH, GenStdH, Op. Abt., I/N, Band I, Nord. 
H 22/223. 


On 31 December the OKW drafted a letter warning Mannerheim of 
the proposed withdrawal, but in the following days Hitler became pre- 
occupied with second thoughts. Before long, the plan vanished in the 
onrush of events. 32 

Norway, 1943 
The Problem of a Defensive Strategy for Scandinavia 

In the early months of 1943 Hitler's chronic fear of an invasion of 
Norway, reinforced by recent events in North Africa and by the grow- 
ing hostility of Sweden, continued unabated. The North African land- 
ings appeared to indicate that the Allies were committed to a strategy of 
attacking on the periphery of Europe, which made Norway a likely next 
target. Sweden, regarded with lingering suspicion since the summer of 
1941 when it refused to join Hitler's "crusade against Bolshevism," be- 
came a new source of apprehension in 1942 as its policy toward Germany 
stiffened in direct proportion to the increasing danger of Allied landings 
in Scandinavia. 

On the question of where the invasion might take place the German 
command was in general agreement. Both Hitler and Falkenhorst re- 
mained deeply impressed by the report on Allied planning which had 
come to them through Finnish sources in December 1942, not only be- 
cause it seemed reliable but also because it offered in fact the greatest 
prospects of success at the lowest cost. Falkenhorst believed that land- 
ings in Denmark, southern Norway, at Trondheim, or at Narvik would 
be considered too costly; he thought the Allies' objective would not be 
to retake Norway but rather, by an attack probably somewhere between 
Narvik and Trondheim, to interdict German traffic to the Polar area 
and to influence the Swedish and Finnish attitudes. 33 The Operations 
Branch, OKW, thought a further objective of such an operation might 
be to establish contact with the Swedes and with their tolerance or sup- 
port cross northern Sweden via Tornio to attack in the rear of the Twen- 
tieth Mountain Army. 34 

The possible Swedish intentions with regard to such an operation 
were described as "obscure." Most disturbing was the knowledge that 
Sweden might very well be able to decide the issue by passive measures 
alone. At the turn of the year 1942^43, reliable attache reports indi- 

32 Stenogr. Dienst im F.H.Qu., Fragment Nr. 11, Besprechung mit Gen. Oberst 
Zeitzler vom 29.12.43. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 31 Dec 43. I.M.T. Doc. 1790-PS. 

w AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 773/43, Notiz fuer Vortrag bei WFSt, [date of entry] 
6.3.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Februar 1943. AOK 20 34698/2. Der Chef 
des Generalstabes der Armee Norwegen, la, Nr. 15/43, Besprechung der operativen 
Aufgaben, 21.3.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Maerz 1943. AOK 20 34698/3. 

34 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B.. 10 Mar 43. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 1786- 


cated that at the time of a landing Sweden would stop all German 
transit across its territory and return to strict neutrality. It was as- 
sumed that in the further course of events Sweden would not aid the 
Germans but might support the Allies. To the Germans loss of the 
transit privileges, together with the halting of sea traffic along the Nor- 
wegian coast certain to result from any landing, meant that all Army 
of Norway units at and north of Narvik and the XIX Mountain Corps 
in Finland would be isolated and serious supply problems would be cre- 
ated for central and southern Norway. To be prepared for such an 
emergency the OKW on 5 January reaffirmed an order issued a year 
earlier for the establishment of reserve stockpiles of eight to nine months' 
supplies in the Narvik-north Finland zone. 35 

In early February the OKW took under consideration the question 
of operational reserves for the Army of Norway. Three months before, 
Hitler had stated the intention of making one, possibly two, additional 
divisions available for Norway. On 5 February the OKW decided to 
send six fortress battalions to release one division for the army reserve 
and, if possible, also to transfer a mountain division to Norway. It also 
concluded that the Armed Forces Commander, Norway, would have to 
be given a directive covering the possibility of Sweden's entrance into the 
war and that the Air Force would have to begin its ground preparation 
for such an eventuality immediately. 36 That a written directive was 
issued is unlikely since the Operations Branch, OKW, returned to the 
same question a month later; but that the Army of Norway received in- 
structions in some form to include Sweden in its considerations regard- 
ing the defense of Norway is indicated in orders which it issued early in 

On 10 February Generalleutnant Rudolf Bamler, Chief of Staff, 
Army of Norway, signed two top secret orders. One was sent to the 
LXX Corps and the XXXIII Corps directing them to take under con- 
sideration that each might — while retaining full responsibility for the 
defense of its sector of the Norwegian coast — be required to release one 
division as army reserves "for other purposes." The XXXIII Corps was 
to be prepared to give up a second infantry division in exchange for an 
Air Force field division. 37 The second went to Generalleutnant Adolf 
von Schell, Commanding General, 25th Panzer Division, instructing 
him as follows : 

In order to be prepared for the possibility that Anglo-Saxon forces in 
a large-scale attack on Scandinavia may thrust into Sweden or land air- 
borne forces there and that Sweden cannot or does not wish to defend 

36 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 5 Jan 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1786-PS. 
30 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 5 Feb 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1786-PS. 

37 AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 2/43, an Gen. Kdo. LXX A.K., Gen Kdo. XXXIII A.K., 
Kdr. 25. Pz. Div. (nachrichtlich) , 8.2.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Februar 
1943. AOK 20 34698/2. 


its territory the 25 th Panzer Division is to work out a study on the 
following basis : 

1. ) The enemy, after successes in the Arctic area, has crossed the 
Swedish border in the direction of Kiruna and has taken the airfields 
of southern Sweden with strong air forces and airborne troops. The 
Swedish Armed Forces have offered scattered resistance but can be ex- 
pected to stop all operations in a short time on orders from their 
government. How the Swedish forces will respond to a German invasion 
is undetermined. 

2. ) Own intention — to prevent the enemy advancing from Narvik 
to Kiruna and the airborne forces from completing the occupation of 
Sweden and to take southern Sweden as a German base of operations. 

The operations necessary for this purpose should be conceived with 
the greatest daring on the assumption that the Swedish Armed Forces 
will, at least, not offer unified resistance and will not be in complete 
agreement with the decision of their government to offer no resistance 
to the Anglo-Saxons but to oppose the Germans. 

3. ) Execution of the operation. Two possibilities are to be given 

a. An advance eastward from the Trondheim area via Ostersund 
to the Gulf of Bothnia in order to prevent the enemy forces in northern 
Sweden from making contact with those in the south and to create the 
preconditions for the destruction of the enemy in southern Sweden. 

b. An advance eastward from the Oslo area into the area north of 
Stockholm including the occupation of Stockholm in order rapidly there- 
after to take possession of the airfields located south of the general line 

For the operation, Schell was told he could count on having the 25th 
Panzer Division, one infantry division in the vicinity of Trondheim, 
another near Oslo, and strong air and airborne support. 38 

During the remainder of February and the first weeks of March, the 
chances that the Army of Norway would be able seriously to institute 
new operational planning did not look bright. Russian successes at 
Stalingrad and elsewhere on the Eastern Front and mounting Allied 
pressure in North Africa had created an acute manpower shortage in 
early 1943 which left the OKW with nothing to spare for the Army of 
Norway. After the 14th Air Force Field Division, which had begun 
leaving Germany in December 1942, assembled in southern Norway in 
February, the OKW did not return to its intention expressed earlier 
of also sending a mountain division. On 1 March the Army of Norway 
had a strength of 10 infantry divisions plus the 14th Air Force Field 
Division, still being equipped and trained, and the 25th Panzer Division, 
so far not much more than an agglomeration of small motorized and 

38 AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 3/43, an den Kommandeur der 25. Pz. Div., 10.2.43, 
in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Februar 1943. AOK 20 34698/2. 


armored detachments. 39 With its existing strength — considerably wat- 
ered down by exchanges with the Eastern Front in the previous year — the 
army considered itself hardly capable of doing more than maintaining 
its static defenses along the Norwegian coast, particularly since a par- 
tially successful British raid in January 1943 brought renewed demands 
from Hitler for an airtight defense of the coast. In March, to achieve 
a degree of mobility, it began moving the 14th Air Force Field Division 
into the Namsos-Bodo area to take over the coastal positions of the 
1 96th Infantry Division while the latter pulled back to act as a reserve 
force in that, as it was believed, threatened area. At the same time the 
scattered elements of the 25th Panzer Division were assembled in southern 
Norway, northeast of Oslo, to provide the nucleus of an operational 

On 8 March the Operations Staff, OKW, turned again to the question 
of the "obscure attitude of the Swedish Government" and proposed to 
issue an order instructing Falkenhorst to determine what measures 
might become necessary if Sweden were to intervene on the side of the 
enemy. It wanted to suggest as a basis mobile defensive tactics to pre- 
vent a junction of Allied and Swedish forces and the "exploitation of 
every opportunity" to operate offensively across the Swedish border for 
the purpose of "nipping in the bud any Swedish attempts to attack." 
That order did not get Jodl's approval, and two days later a second was 
drawn up, this time instructing the Armed Forces Commander, Norway, 
and the Commanding General, Twentieth Mountain Army, to prepare 
jointly a short study concerning the conduct of operations in the entire 
Scandinavian area "for the event that the military and political situation 
there might change." Contrary to the earlier intention, it was proposed 
that the Army of Norway and the Twentieth Mountain Army maintain 
contact with each other and prevent a junction of the Allies and Swedes 
but "avoid even the appearance of encroaching on Swedish sovereignty." 
No additional forces were foreseen for either army. On orders from 
Hitler that directive was not issued, though its contents were apparently 
communicated orally to the Chief of Staff, Twentieth Mountain Army, 
and the Operations Officer, Army of Norway on 16 March. 40 

39 After the 25th Panzer Division was activated in Norway in early 1 942, progress 
in bringing it up to strength had been slow. In March 1943 it was just beginning 
to receive some German Mark III and IV tanks, but, for the most part, its tank 
armament consisted of obsolete German Mark II's and French Hotchkiss and Suoma 
tanks. It had a ration strength, probably somewhat higher than the actual strength, 
of 11,000 men. 

When he took command of the division in early January 1943 Schell reported 
that "everything" was still missing. The tanks and artillery were too weak and the 
troops untrained. He proposed to conduct training in the following three directions: 

1 . To combat an enemy landed in Norway, 

2. To fight against Sweden, [tactics — ] break through and then, where successful, 

thrust deep regardless of neighboring columns, 

3. To fight under normal tank conditions. 

25. Pz. Div., Kommandeur , Tgb. Nr. 1/43, Lage der Division, 6.1.43, in AOK 
Norweeen la, Chefsachen zum K.T.B., 5.5.42-4.9.43. AOK 20 45273. 

40 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 3 Mar 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1786-PS. Walter Warlimont, 
Commentary on the OKW War Diary, pp. 224ff. OCMH. 


Both Hitler and Jodl were obviously anxious to avoid offering Sweden 
any provocation at that time, especially since militarily they were not in 
a position to accept the consequences; but it was quickly demonstrated 
that the latter condition was one which Hitler, at least, did not intend 
to tolerate indefinitely. In his weekly report for the first week of March 
Falkenhorst requested that, since it appeared that the mountain division 
which he had been promised would not be forthcoming, an attempt at 
least be made to give him several fortress battalions. The Operations 
Staff, OKW, believed that it would not be possible to create fortress 
battalions for Norway. On 13 March, in discussing the matter with 
Hitler, Jodl learned that Hitler was still determined to reinforce the Army 
of Norway, intending to send six fortress battalions as soon as possible 
and planning to learn from the Army Chief of Staff whether it might 
not be possible, after all, to release a mountain division for Norway from 
the Eastern Front. Hitler also stated an intention to equip the 25th 
Panzer Division with "the heaviest assault weapons, ones against which 
Sweden possesses no means of defense." 41 

By the time the Chief of Staff, Twentieth Mountain Army, and the 
Operations Officer, Army of Norway, arrived at Fuehrer Headquarters 
on 16 March the terms of the discussion, as foreseen by the Operations 
Staff, OKW, on 10 March, had already changed somewhat in view of 
Hitler's renewed insistence on reinforcing the Army of Norway. The 
Operations Officer, Army of Norway, Col. Bernard von Lossberg, re- 
ported that the Army of Norway considered Allied landings possible in 
two areas, namely, between Trondheim and Narvik and between Alta 
Fiord and Tana Fiord. The first was considered the more likely, par- 
ticularly by Jodl, who expressed the opinion then current in the Opera- 
tions Branch, OKW, that mutual suspicion and mistrust would prevent 
collaboration of the Western Powers and Russia in the far north. Con- 
cerning the question of cooperation between the Army of Norway and 
the Twentieth Mountain Army in dealing with a landing, the indica- 
tions were that the Twentieth Mountain Army would not be able to 
give substantial help because its forces were nearly all committed at the 
front. It was suggested that the Twentieth Mountain Army attempt 
to create an operational reserve of one division by reducing the divisions 
of the XXXVI Mountain Corps to two regiments each. ( The Twentieth 
Mountain Army rejected this solution a day or two later. ) With regard 
to operational reserves for the Army of Norway, Jodl indicated that the 
army would be given the 295th Infantry Division, a reactivated Stalin- 
grad division, and that the 25th Panzer Division would be built up; 

a OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 13 Mar 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1786-PS. W.B. Norwegen, 
la, Nr. 792/43, Woechentlicher Lagebericht, 9.3.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer den 
Monat Maerz 1943. AOK 20 34698/3. 


but all he promised for the division in the near future was 500 trucks. 42 
In the week following the conference Hitler intervened again to in- 
crease and speed up the reinforcements for the Army of Norway. Quite 
suddenly, the tide of the war seemed once more to be turning in his favor. 
The Army Group Center had completed a planned withdrawal which 
shortened its front by several hundred kilometers. In the Ukraine, 
Manstein, in a counterattack which had retaken Kharkov, was dealing 
the Russians a thumping defeat which ended their winter offensive. As 
Manstein's army group began consolidating its front, Hitler, for the 
first time in many months, found himself with divisions to spare, not 
enough to contemplate another offensive like those of 1941 and 1942 but 
sufficient for an attempt at regaining the initiative in limited areas 
of the Eastern Front and for strengthening the German position in 

On 23 March the OKW informed Falkenhorst that the 295th Infantry 
Division would be brought up to a strength of two regiments plus eight 
fortress battalions, an engineer battalion, and a communications unit. 
The 25th Panzer Division was to be brought up to full strength before 
the end of June. It would be given ten Panzer IV's five self-propelled 
assault guns, and ten heavy antitank guns per month during April, May, 
and June. Three of the fortress battalions Falkenhorst planned to sta- 
tion in southern Norway and in the far north to create local reserves. 
The remaining five, plus two already on hand, he intended to leave with 
the 295th Infantry Division which would move into the Trondheim 
area where it would release the 181st Infantry Division for the reserve. 43 

During the last week of March Schell put the finishing touches on his 
"Operational Study, Sweden," which he submitted to the Army of 
Norway on 6 April. His first concern was to devise tactics suitable to the 
terrain of Sweden and capable of execution with relatively weak forces. 
Deciding that an attack through the mountains of western Sweden would 
have to follow the roads and valleys, he chose to rely on the shock effect of 
a swift, almost reckless, advance. He proposed to echelon his tanks and 
infantry in such a manner that, by leapfrogging, fresh spearheads could 
take over at intervals, enabling the advance to continue at high speed day 
and night. This was in part an adaptation of the tactics developed 
during the advance north through central Norway in the spring of 1940. 
The conditions were similar, long narrow valleys with steep slopes, and 
a lightly armed enemy presumed to have neither modern armor nor 

42 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 16 Mar 43. I.M.T., Doc. 1786-PS. Helmut Greiner, 
Aufzeichmungen ueber die Lagevortraege und Besprechungen im Fuehrer Haupt- 
quartier vom 12 August bis 17 Maerz 1943, p. 117. MS # G-065a. OCMH. AOK 
Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abteilung la fuer den Monat Maerz 1943, in 
Taetigkeitsberichte fuer den Monat Maerz 1943. AOK 20 34698/3. (Geb.) 
AOK 20, la, Besprechungsnotiz anlaesslich der Anwesenheit des Chefs des Gen.-St. 
(Geb.) AOK 20, Generalmajor Jodl, im OKW vom 16-17.3.43. AOK 20 36560/4. 

43 OKW, WFSt, Op. Nr. 001355/43, an W.B. Norwegen, 23.3.43 and AOK Nor- 
wegen, la, Nr. 7038/43, an OKH (Org. Abt.), 29.3.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte fuer 
den Monat Maerz 1943. AOK 20 34698/3. 


heavy 'antitank weapons. "It can be expected," he wrote, "that the 
enemy, unaccustomed to battle and, in any case, not credited with a 
high degree of enthusiasm for combat, will not be able to hold against 
this method of operation with heavy and armored weapons, particu- 
larly, if it is possible — as planned — to appear where least expected." 

Judging the Swedish main forces to be distributed in three concentra- 
tions of three to four divisions each — one near Ostersund, one in the 
vicinity of Stockholm, and the other northwest of Vanern Lake — he 
presented the following two plans of operations in accordance with 
Paragraph 3 of the army order : 

Operation I. The Swedish divisions at Ostersund were relatively 
isolated and could not be reinforced from the south without impairing 
the defenses there. They could be reached by two roads, one running 
due east from Trondheim and the other northeast from Roros. Schell 
proposed sending one infantry division along the Trondheim-Ostersund 
route and a panzer division northeastward from Roros. After Oster- 
sund had been taken it would be a simple matter to continue tl advance 
to the Gulf of Bothnia. Operation I could be executed within the 
limits set by the Army of Norway and leave a division to spare. Although 
it would also drive a wedge between the presumed Allied forces, it was a 
partial solution, and further operations would be required in the south. 

Operation II. In the south the problem was to take Stockholm, by far 
the most important strategic objective in Sweden, and at the same time 
eliminate the Vanern Lake divisions with the smallest possible expendi- 
ture of effort. The most direct route with the best roads ran due east 
from Oslo past the northern shore of Vanern Lake ; but it crossed three 
lines of fortifications: one along the border, the second running north 
from the northwestern tip of Vanern Lake, and the third — the outer ring 
of the Stockholm defenses — anchored on the northeastern tip of the lake. 
Schell, therefore, proposed to place his jump-off point in the Tryssil area 
farther north, where two long, parallel river valleys ran southeastward 
around and behind the first two lines of Swedish defenses. 

On the left flank, one division, preferably motorized, would advance 
southeastward to Falun while one panzer division following the north- 
ernmost of the valleys, that of the Vaster-Dalalven, would take Ludvika. 
At Falun and Ludvika the divisions would break through the outer 
Stockholm defenses, that in the north continuing on to Upsala and that 
in the south to Vasteras. Depending on the circumstances, the divisions 
could then either close in directly on Stockholm or move out to the coast 
north and south of the city. A decisive battle could be expected at the 
inner Stockholm defense ring, in the vicinity of Avesta. 

In the southern valley, that of the Klaralven, one infantry division 
would advance to Filipstad. There it was expected to be able to turn 
east toward Stockholm but might be drawn off into the fighting north of 
Vanern Lake. On its right a second infantry division would cross the 
border and roll up the Swedish Vanern Lake defenses from the north. 


Map 20 


The operation would also require several small parachute landings and 
small amphibious landings on the southwest coast and north of Stock- 
holm to distract and tie down the enemy. 4 * 

Schell foresaw that the Swedish command could assemble three to 
four divisions south of Filipstad and three divisions in the vicinity of 
Avesta and then, by counterattacking northwestward via Filipstad and 
across the line Falun— Ludvika, block the German advance. "But," he 
concluded, "such an operation would require rapid decisions, great dar- 
ing, lightning execution, and great flexibility in the high and inter- 
mediate leadership, which are not expected of the Swedes." Another 
inconvenient possibility was that the Vanern Lake divisions would remain 
in their prepared positions north and northwest of the lake. This 
would force the German division taking Filipstad to turn southwest- 
ward and make necessary commitment of an additional division to con- 
tinue the advance toward Stockholm. If, on the other hand, the 
Swedish Vanern Lake group withdrew southwest of the lake or pulled 
back into the outer ring of Stockholm defenses, the operation could pro- 
ceed as planned. Evaluating all the possibilities, Schell decided that the 
Vanern Lake divisions would probably attempt to take up new positions 
facing north and northeast but that the speed and daring of the German 
advance would prevent their devising a viable scheme of operations 
until it was too late ; therefore, the extra division would not be needed. 45 

On 8 April Lossberg, Operations Officer, Army of Norway, completed 
his review of the Schell study with the comment, "A speedy occupation 
of Sweden will require a combination of Operations I and II and forces 
adequate for the purpose." 4<i That those forces would be available was 
still far from certain, and at the middle of the month the Operations 
Staff, OKW, again raised the possibility of exchanging three Norway 
divisions for Eastern Front divisions. That intention was soon dropped. 
At the end of the month, Hitler, reaffirming his determination to create 

44 In its issue of 26 June 1946 the Soviet Army newspaper Krasnaya Svesda de- 
voted a full page to Operation Polarfuchs, a German plan for the invasion of 
Sweden dating from the spring of 1943. The article based on alleged revelations by 
Bamler, after the war a prisoner of war in Russia, described an operation requiring 
from 17 to 19 divisions directed eastward from the Swedish-Norwegian border and 
landings along the Baltic coast and on Gotland. As described, the operation would 
have required every division the Germans had in Norway plus reinforcements of two 
to four divisions. Even then it could not have been executed, inasmuch as the 
majority of the divisions in Norway were static divisions, ones without either equip- 
ment or training for mobile operations. 

From the point of view of tactics the Bamler article is also questionable. The 
main effort is placed in the Ostersund area with a secondary attack directed frontally 
against the Swedish positions west of Vanern Lake. There is also mention of a 
landing in divisional strength on Gotland, an undertaking which would have been 
a pointless diversion of strength. 

The code-name Polarfuchs probably originated with this article. It does not 
appear in the German records, and that it would have been used is unlikely since 
the Army of Norway had already executed an Operation Polarfuchs — the XXXVI 
Corps offensive in 1941. 

45 25. Panzer-Division, Kommandeur, Nr. 3/43, Operative Studie Schweden, 
31. 3 A3. AOK 20 63905. 

48 Ibid. 


strong operational reserves for the Army of Norway, announced the 
creation of three new divisions. Two of them were to be static di- 
visions: one formed in Germany by 1 July; the other formed in Norway 
by 1 August using cadres from the existing divisions and replacements 
from Germany. They were to release two infantry divisions for the 
army reserve. The third division was to be a panzer division formed 
by 15 September out of elements from the Eastern Front. 47 When the 
terms of this order were met, the army would have an operational 
reserve of four infantry and two panzer divisions, enough to reinforce the 
Narvik-Trondheim area and to execute an operation in the sense of the 
Schell study. 48 

The Army of Norway reported that it intended to use the two static 
divisions to release the 214th and 269th Infantry Divisions and that it 
intended to station the six reserve divisions in such a manner "that, on 
the one hand, they will have, at least, elements in position to support the 
coastal defenses and, on the other, be favorably situated in the event 
that the army is to receive new missions." 49 In mid-May the Army of 
Norway requested a corps and a panzer corps headquarters to command 
the reserves. At the same time it reported that it had created a reserve 
of one reinforced regiment in the Narvik area. 50 

Meanwhile, the Naval Staff had taken the possibility of a conflict 
with Sweden under consideration. In May it submitted its considera- 
tions to the OKW. It foresaw no great tactical problems. The main 
mission of the Navy would be to trap the Swedish Navy in port by block- 
ing the major harbors, particularly Stockholm, Goteborg, and Karls- 
krona, with mines on the night before the attack. The Baltic Training 
Fleet, four cruisers and a World War I battleship, would be able to deal 
with any vessels which managed to put to sea. The Navy believed that 
the Swedish destroyers (11), submarines (23), and torpedo boats (12) 
would constitute a worthwhile accretion of strength for the German 
Navy if they could be captured intact. The heavier Swedish units it 
regarded as too far out-of-date to be worth serious consideration either 
as opponents or as booty. 

Although the Navy's only special request was for two months' advance 

47 AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 1161/43, an OKW, WFSt, (Op.), 12.4.43; AOK 
Norwegen, la, Nr. 1161/43, II Aug., 16.4.43; and OKW, WFSt, Op. (H), Nr. 
002069/43, an W.B. Norwegen, 30.4.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Maerz 1943. 
AOK 20 34698/4. 

48 Norway itself was considered unsuitable for large-scale armored operations. In 
February 1943 the Army of Norway had reported that a panzer division in Norway 
was "actually a luxury" since tanks could be used only in certain localities. AOK 
Norwegen, la, Nr. 773/43, Notiz fuer Vortrag bei WFSt, 6.3.43, in TaetigkeitS' 
berichte Monat Februar 1943. AOK 20 34698/2. 

4 * The reserves were to be stationed as follows : two panzer divisions in the Sarps- 
borg— Halden areas, the 214th Division west of Oslo, the 269th Division east of 
Lillehammer, the 181st Division at and northeast of Dombaas, and the 196th Division 
in the vicinity of Steinkjer (headquarters and one regiment) and Bodo (one 
regiment) . 

60 AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 25/43, an OKW, WFSt. (Op.), 5.5.43; AOK Norwegen, 
la, Nr. 1438/43, 14.5.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Mai 1943. AOK 20 


notice to put the Baltic Fleet on a full war footing, it anticipated several 
dangerous developments which, in its view, cast doubt on the wisdom of 
an operation against Sweden. The most serious of those was possible 
loss of the Baltic Sea as a submarine training area. Others of importance 
were disruption of supply shipments to Finland, loss of the Swedish iron 
ore, and loss of transit across Swedish territory to Norway. In express- 
ing those fears the Navy was concerned with the possibility that, if 
Sweden were not subdued very quickly, American and British air forces 
might intervene and the Russian naval units bottled up at Leningrad 
might break out, turning the Baltic Sea into a major zone of operations. 

The Navy was also apparently worried that an outright preventive 
operation might be attempted and listed, as an additional danger in a 
conflict with Sweden, the creation of conditions favorable to an Allied 
landing in Scandinavia. 51 The Navy again expressed its apprehension 
on that score on 23 May when the Naval Staff warned the Foreign 
Ministry, which was then about to open crucial negotiations with 
Sweden concerning the transit agreements, that a conflict with Sweden 
might paralyze the submarine fleet. The Naval Staff emphasized that 
the capture of Leningrad and elimination of Soviet naval forces in the 
Baltic would, from the naval point of view, have to come before any 
operation against Sweden. 62 

While the Navy was recording its doubts, the transport and relief 
movements for the Army of Norway swung into high gear. The 14th 
Air Force Field Division at the end of April completed the relief of the 
196th Infantry Division. Elements of the 295th Infantry Division began 
arriving in Norway in May, and by the end of June transfer of the 
division was nearly completed. During May and June formation of a 
static division (the 274th Infantry Division) in Norway proceeded on 
schedule. Most remarkable was the transformation of the 25th Panzer 
Division from a collection of odds and ends into a powerfully equipped 
(for Scandinavian conditions) panzer division. By the end of June 
the division had been completely re-equipped with German artillery and 
small arms; it had received well over 1,000 trucks and other vehicles; 
and its strength (ration strength) stood at 21,000 men. It had 7 Mark 
II tanks, 41 Mark Ill's, 16 Mark IV's, 40 Hotchkiss (French), 15 
Suomas (French), and 15 self-propelled assault guns. 53 

51 OKM, B. Nr. 1 SKL B 1568/43, Kurze Betrachtung zum Kriegsfall mit 
Schweden und zu den dabei auftretenden Aufgaben der Kriegsmarine (Stand Mai 
1943), in Kriegstagebuch der Seekriegsleitung Teil C, Band III. 

52 Naval War Diary, Vol. 45, p. 261. 

53 In July additional shipments of tanks brought the totals up to 14 Mark II's, 62 
Mark Ill's, and 26 Mark IV's. AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ia, 
fuer den Monat Juni 1943, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Juni 1943. AOK 20 
40216/1. AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 1676/43, Trubbengliederung, 16.6.43, in Taetig- 
keitsberichte Monat Juni 1943. AOK 20 40216/1. AOK Norwegen, Ia, Nr. 
2410/43, Truppengliederung, 19.8.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat August 1943. 
AOK 20 40216/3. AOK Norwegen, O. Qju., Qu. 1, Taetigkeitsbericht April 1943, 
Taetigkeitsbericht Mai 1943, Taetigkeitsbericht Juni 1943, and Taetigkeitsbericht 
Juli 1943. AOK 20 33279/1 and 2, 34298, and 34421. 


On 21 June Falkenhorst informed the XXXIII Corps, the LXX 
Corps, and the 25th Panzer Division that in September the army re- 
serves would be fully assembled and that he intended then to conduct 
fall maneuvers on a large scale for the purpose of giving instruction in 
the "Skandinavien Taktik." He delegated the planning and direction of 
the maneuvers to Schell. 54 To supplement the army order, Schell issued 
a summary of the terrain estimate and tactical recommendations in his 
study for an operation against Sweden as a guide in preparing for the 

In July the build-up of reserves and planning for the fall maneuvers 
progressed, but in the lengthening shadow of ominous events on other 
fronts. The first of those was the catastrophic failure of the offensive 
against the Kursk salient in southern Russia. Its direct effect on the 
Northern Theater was to end all hopes that Leningrad would be taken; 
most important, it demonstrated that, far from operating offensively, 
the German armies in the east would not even be able to tie down the 
Russians in positional warfare during the summer of 1943. The disaster 
in Russia was accompanied by rapid deterioration of the German posi- 
tion in the Mediterranean and by growing concern over possible Allied 
landings in the Balkans or on the Channel coast. At the end of the 
month the OKW informed the Army of Norway that the infantry 
division promised from Germany would not be available and that the 
panzer division would not arrive by September. 56 

In August Hitler could no longer afford the luxury of a strong opera- 
tional reserve in Norway. At the middle of the month, with the Army 
Group South retreating in the Ukraine and Italy about to defect, he 
ordered the 25th Panzer Division to the Channel coast at top speed. 57 
Two weeks later the Army of Norway recorded in its monthly activity 
report that orders for the fall maneuvers had been issued but "were 
rendered, in part, purposeless by the transfer of 25th Panzer Division." 58 
In September the 181st Division was transferred to the Balkans, and in 
the last week of the month, when the remnants of the reserve conducted 
maneuvers, they were limited to regimental and battalion exercises tai- 
lored to situations which might arise in the defense of the Norwegian 

In what has the earmarks of a post-mortem on the planning which 
had been conducted in the first half of the year, Bamler in December 

5l AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 1800/43, 21.6.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Juni 
1943. AOK 20 40216/1. 

55 25. Panzer-Division, Kommandeur, Tgb. Nr. 333/43, Theoretische Grundlagen 
fuer die Entwicklung eines skandinavischen Kampfverfahrens, 26.5.43, in Taetig- 
keitsberichte Monat Juni 1943. AOK 20 40216/1. 

m AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abteilung la fuer den Monat Juh 
1943, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Juli 1943. AOK 20 40216/2. 

57 OKW, WFSt, Op. (H), Nr. 004550/43, an W.B. Norwegen, 21.8.43, in Taetig- 
keitsberichte Monat August 1943. AOK 20 40216/3. 

58 AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abt, la fuer den Monat August 
1943, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat August 1943. AOK 20 40216/3. 


1943 presented the following tactical problem to the Army of Norway 
corps chiefs of staff : The enemy had staged successful landings in central 
Norway near Trondheim and in Denmark. He had landed airborne 
forces in Sweden and would attempt to gain direct contact with Sweden 
by taking Denmark. Sweden remained neutral but would defend her 
border against the Germans. The core of the problem was to mount a 
clear-cut main effort against one of the threats. 

Most of the officers chose an operation against Sweden; but, in his 
critique, Bamler rejected that solution. He and Falkenhorst, he said, 
were agreed that the main effort would have to be in central Norway. 
Sweden might come later, after the enemy in Norway had been elimi- 
nated, but as long as the Army of Norway had no more than two divisions 
in reserve an invasion of Sweden would be certain to bog down. If a 
full panzer corps were on hand, he concluded, the situation might be 
different. 59 

Internal Affairs and the Situation at the End of the Year 

During 1943, in keeping with Hitler's determination to deny the 
Western Powers as much as a foothold in Europe, the Army of Norway 
continued its endless program of expanding and improving the Nor- 
wegian defenses. The most ambitious projects, such as emplacement of 
heavy naval guns, were the responsibility of Einsatzgruppe Wiking of 
the Organisation Todt, which employed Germans, Norwegians, and 
large numbers of Russian prisoners of war as labor. 60 In the summer of 
1 943 Einsatzgruppe Wiking completed the first block of bombproof 
submarine pens at Trondheim and had others under construction there 
and at Bergen. Later in the year it finished winterproofiing the Reichs- 
strasse 50 as far as Lakselv on Porsanger Fiord. In previous years even 
the most modern snow removal equipment had been unable to cope 
with the tremendous snow falls produced by the collision of maritime 
and arctic air masses along the Norwegian arctic coast. It had been 
necessary to build snowplow stations at 5- to 10-mile intervals and to 
construct several snow tunnels, one of them nearly five miles long. The 
wood for the tunnels and for the giant snow fences which skirted the 
road over much of its length had to be brought in from the south. 61 

In 1943 Einsatzgruppe Wiking began work on Germany's largest 
and most expensive project in Norway, the Arctic Railroad. Hitler 

58 Der Chef des Generalstabes der Armee Norwegen, Abt. la, Nr. 69/43, Besprechung 
der operativen, 13.12.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Dezember 1943. 
AOK 20 40216/6. 

00 The Organisation Todt bore the name of the former Reich Minister for Arms 
and Munitions, Dr. Fritz Todt, who was killed in 1942. Regarded as Germany's 
construction genius, he had founded the Organisation Todt which during the war 
directed large-scale military construction throughout occupied Europe. Einsatz- 
gruppe Wiking was a subordinate establishment for Norway and Denmark (for a 
short time in 1944 also Finland). 

01 Franz Xaver Dorsch, Organisation Todt, p. 45-59. MS # P-037. OCMH. 


Snow tunnel on ReicksslrasSe 50. 

had become convinced that a railroad between Trondheim and Narvik, 
which would provide a secure route for supply and ore traffic, could be 
built in two year?. He intended at first also to carry the construction 
north to Kirkenes. Falkenhorst protested repeatedly that the railroad, 
which would require 145,000 Russian prisoners as labor and — according 
to the Army of Norway estimates — take four to six years to build, would 
place an unbearable strain on his limited transportation facilities and 
would delay all other defensive preparations in Norway,"" But in the 
face of repeated protests from the Army of Norway Hitler agreed only to 
postpone the work north of Narvik and to allow that between Trond- 
heim and Narvik to proceed "as fast as possible" rather than at a fixed 
high speed. The technical difficulties of building the Arctic Railroad 
were tremendous. It would have required some 40 miles of tunnels, and 
over long stretches roads first had to be built to bring in equipment and 
material. At the end of 1944 Einsatzgruppc Wiking with vast expendi- 
tures of manpower (40,000 to 50,000 Russian prisoners of war) and 
material — which could have been put to better use elsewhere— had 
brought it about one-third of the way toward completion. As late as 
mid-April 1945 Hitler gave the construction equal priority with the 
warships of the Navy in the allotment of motor fuel and coal, both of 
which were then running desperately short in Norway, ™ 

^ AOK Norwegen, la, Taetigkeitsberichl fuer den Monai Januar !943, in Taetis.- 
keitsberichte Monat January 1943. AOK 20 34698/ L AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 
467/43, Anruf Min. Rat Henne, 1 3.2.43, in Taetizkeitsberichte Monat Februar 1943. 
AOK 20 34698/2. 

""Dorsch, Organisation Todt, p. 49. (Geb.) AOK 20 (OKW/WJ, Norw.), la, 
Nr. 2459/45, Euenbahnbau Nordnorwegen, 16.4.45, in K.T.B. Anlaeenband 1.4.- 
30.4.45. AOK 20 75036/5. 


In 1 943 a major obstacle to successful organization of the Norwegian 
defenses cropped up in the form of the person of Reichskommissar Ter- 
boven. In accordance with standard German practice, the Army of 
Norway claimed the full powers of the executive in a zone of active oper- 
ations. In the army view, once Norway became the scene of active 
hostilities on more than a limited scale, all administrative authority would 
automatically pass to Falkenhorst, and Terboven would take his depart- 
ture. To the Reichskommissar, already annoyed by the authority which 
Fuehrer Directive No. 40 had conferred on Falkenhorst in matters re- 
lating to defense, the mere existence of such a possibility was unbearably 
irksome. He countered with a plan of his own to create a so-called 
Sicherungsbereich (Security Zone) in southeastern Norway around Oslo. 
There he intended to assemble all the SS and police units in Norway and, 
in the event of an invasion, retain the governmental authority using the 
police and SS as a defense force. This state within a state, conceived 
solely for the purpose of satisfying Terboven's vanity was patently ridicu- 
lous; but Hitler and Himmler, who never let slip an opportunity to 
extend the influence of the SS, regarded it with some favor. Against 
such opposition the Army of Norway, and the OKW as well, had to 
proceed cautiously. The Terboven plan, which should have been re- 
jected out of hand, remained the subject of lengthy negotiations which 
dragged on until the end of the war. 64 

In the summer of 1943 the far from cordial relations between Terboven 
and Falkenhorst took a turn for the worse. In July Terboven claimed 
to have knowledge that many of the able-bodied Norwegians escaping 
to Sweden for military training were former Norwegian officers. Be- 
cause of these violations of the paroles given in June 1 940, he demanded 
that all the former Norwegian officers be taken into custody. Falken- 
horst agreed in principle but refused to make troops available "for a 
purely police action." 65 Enraged, Terboven complained to Fuehrer 
Headquarters that "the Armed Forces are obviously trying to avoid 
openly making themselves guilty of an unfriendly action." 66 Hitler 
instructed the OKW to order the Armed Forces to carry out the arrests. 
The officers were taken into custody on 17 August. 67 

During the second half of 1943 Denmark returned to a position of 
prominence in the Northern Theater. At the end of August, in order 
to stamp out a wave of strikes, Germany declared martial law in Den- 
mark. In protest, the king and government ceased exercising their 
functions. The German forces disarmed the Danish Army and Navy; 

64 W.B. Norivegen, la, Nr. 1375/43, an OKW, WFSt, 4.5.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte 
Monat Mai 1943. AOK 20 34698/5. W.B. Norwegen, la, Nr. 28/43 [personal 
letter Bamler to Warlimont], 15.5.43. OKW/119. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 17 Aug 
43. I.M.T.,Doc. 1786-PS. 

W.B. Norwegen, Ic/Q_u., Nr. 3652/43, Festnahme ehem. norwegischer Offiziere, 
7.7.43. OKW/119. 

66 Terboven an Herrn Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, Fuehrerhauptquartier, 10.7.43. 

67 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 17 Aug 43. I.M.T. Doc. 1786-PS. 


and the SS, taking advantage of the situation, moved in to arrest the 
Danish Jews, some of whom escaped and found asylum in Sweden. 
Thereafter German control of Denmark was tightened. The Army of 
Norway expressed concern that the disturbances in Denmark and in- 
creasing hostility in Sweden could provide the impulse for an Allied 
invasion of Jutland and southern Sweden. 68 Late in the year the Ger- 
man forces in Denmark were increased by two divisions to six divisions 
and 130,000 men. 69 

At the year's end, the Army of Norway, with 12 divisions plus the 
Panzer Division Norway, totaled 314,000 men. Of those, the 196th 
and 214th Divisions, the last of the army reserves, were on standby orders 
for transfer to other theaters. The Panzer Division Norway, composed 
of odds and ends left behind by the 25th Panzer Division, had a strength 
of about a regiment and was armed with 47 Mark III tanks left in Nor- 
way because they were equipped with unsatisfactory transmissions. In 
the last months of the year the Army of Norway repeatedly urged that 
a full panzer division be stationed in Norway for the sake of its deterrent 
effect on Sweden. As a result of stockpiling throughout the year, the 
Army of Norway was in a position to conduct large-scale operations for 
eight to nine months with the supplies on hand. 70 

On 28 December the Operations Staff, OKW, recorded Hitler's pre- 
diction for 1944 as follows: "Along with a landing in the West, the 
Fuehrer definitely expects one in Norway. Were Germany eventually 
to collapse, the British could not tolerate having the Russians suddenly 
appear in Narvik. In order to forestall that, the British will, in the 
Fuehrer's opinion, take the risk of an attack against Norway in addition 
to an attack in the west." 71 

The Arctic Convoys 

After the disastrous December 1942 attack on JW.51B responsibility 
for the conduct of anticonvoy operations passed entirely to the subma- 
rines, of which 21, a far from negligible force, were employed. Between 
January and March 1943 the British sent two more convoys, totaling 
42 ships, and 6 ships sailing independently on the northern run. Eight 
ships were lost. Another 5 ships were lost out of 36 returning empty 
from Russian ports. In April the Admiralty decided to suspend convoy 
traffic in the Arctic until autumn and the return of long nights. 72 

In June 1943 a British-Norwegian landing party took the German 
weather station on Spitzbergen. The Germans at first feared that a 

68 W.B. Norwegen, la, Nr. 2604/43, Woechentlicher Lagebericht, Stichtag: 
30.8.1943, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat August 1943. AOK 20 40216/3. 
09 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 31 Dec 43. I.M.T. Doc. 1786-PS. 

™ AOK Norwegen, la, Nr. 3687/43, Truppengliederung des Armee-Oberkommandos 
Norwegen, 1.12.43, in Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Dezember 1943. AOK 20 40216/7. 
OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 31 Dec 43. International Military Tribunal Doc. 1790-PS. 

71 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B., 28 Dec. 43. I.M.T. Doc. 1790-PS. 

72 Churchill, op. cit., Vol. V, pp. 256-58. 


naval and air base to protect the convoys would be established. When 
it became known that the British and Norwegians had only set" up a 
weather station, the German Navy planned to counter with a landing 
of its own. The Tirpitz, the Scharnhorst, and nine destroyers were 
readied in Alta Fiord, and in the first week of September they took 
aboard 600 Army of Norway troops. That battleship support for the 
operation was superfluous was known, but the Navy from the start was 
more interested in showing the crews some action to keep up their morale 
than it was in the military results of the Spitzbergen raid, which were 
expected to be slight in any case. It may have been haunted by the 
memory of 1918 when the sailors at Kiel after years of inactivity mutinied 
and touched off a revolution. 

On 8 September Operation Zitronella, Spitzbergen, was carried off 
according to plan, encountering no resistance worthy of mention. 73 
Most of the Norwegian garrison escaped to the mountains and began 
rebuilding within a few days. In mid-October a United States-British 
task group brought in reinforcements and new equipment. 74 The Naval 
Staff concluded on 9 September, "What is important is not the relatively 
small tactical success but that our heavy units could be put into action 
again at long last. It has also reminded friend and foe of the strategic 
importance which the presence of these naval units represents when 
related to the war situation in general." 75 

In less than two weeks the Navy had cause to regret its "reminder" 
concerning the presence of the battleships. The Tirpitz, in particular, 
the British had never forgotten, since its existence alone forced them to 
keep battleships, which could have been used more profitably elsewhere, 
in home waters. Goaded by Zitronella, the British Navy dispatched 
six midget submarines against the Tirpitz. Three were lost at sea, but 
three reached Alta Fiord, and two managed to slip through the entrance 
of the battleship's antisubmarine net, which had been left open to per- 
mit small boat traffic to a teletype station ashore. The mines they 
planted beneath the battleship failed to sink it but seriously damaged its 
steering gear and propeller shafts. With no dock in Norway capable 
of berthing the giant and a three-knot-per-mile tow to Germany an open 
invitation to disaster, the Navy decided to undertake the repairs on the 
spot. The most optimistic estimate was that they would require six 
months. 76 

In November the convoy traffic resumed. After the first convoy had 
passed without losing a single ship, the German Navy found itself con- 
fronted with exactly the same dilemma it had faced a year earlier. 

"Naval War Diary, Vol. 46, p. 245 and Vol. 49, pp. 49, 129. 

74 Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World 
War II (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1956), Vol. X, p. 231. 
15 Naval War Diary, Vol. 49, p. 129. 

76 Morison, op. cit., Vol. X, p. 231. Naval War Diary, Vol. 49, p. 321 and Vol. 50, 
p. 30. 


German submarine on arctic patrol. 

Surface operations against the convoys were risky and promised little, 
but there was a need to demonstrate the value of the capital ships and 
a moral obligation not to keep powerful vessels lying idle while supplies 
to be used against the hard-pressed troops on the Eastern Front were 
being transported to Russia. On 2 December the Naval Staff decided 
that the Scharnkorst would have to be used against the convoys during 
the dark months. 

After waiting out most of the month, aerial reconnaissance on 23 
December located a convoy, escorted by cruisers and destroyers, steam- 
ing northeastward toward Bear Island. The Fifth Air Force reported 
that it had no planes suitable for use against the convoy and refused 
further reconnaissance unless the Navy intended to take action. On 
the following day the Navy decided to commit the Scharnkorst and 
detailed five destroyers as a scouting force for the battleship. With six 
hours of twilight but no more than 45 minutes of light suitable for 
accurate gunnery, the Scharnkorst would have to time its attack for about 
an hour before noon. If enemy battleships put in an appearance the 
operation was to be broken off and the ships returned to port, 

On the morning of the 25th, the Naval Group North, reporting that 
high winds had grounded the reconnaissance planes and made it doubt- 
ful whether the destroyers could put to sea, recommended canceling the 
sortie. The Naval Staff, however — on the grounds that no heavy units 
had been detected in the convoy escort, that the possibility of surprise 
existed, and that the critical situation of the Army in Russia justified the 
risk— decided it could not cancel. If the destroyers could not operate, 
the Scharnkorst would have to be sent out alone. At 1900 on Christmas 
Day the Scharnkorst and the destroyers left Alta Fiord. 


At 0730 on the 26th Konteradmiral Erich Bey, commanding in the 
Scharnhorst, dispatched the destroyers in a reconnaissance line to locate 
the convoy. An hour and a half later the convoy covering force of three 
cruisers picked up the Scharnhorst on radar and after closing the range 
opened fire. Without returning the fire the Scharnhorst altered course, 
and shortly thereafter the radar contact was lost. To reinforce the 
cruisers 4 destroyers were detached from the convoy escort of 14; but, 
most important, 125 miles away to the southwest the battleship Duke of 
York with a cruiser and 4 destroyers had been alerted and was coming 
up fast. The presence of the Duke of York remained unknown to the 

At noon the cruisers reestablished radar contact, and some minutes 
later in a brisk exchange of fire both sides scored hits before the Scharn- 
horst again broke off action. At 1418 Admiral Bey ordered the de- 
stroyers, which had not been able to locate the merchant ships, to return 
to base. Apparently, he intended to withdraw with the Scharnhorst 
at the same time. 

Meanwhile, the cruisers maintained radar contact, keeping just out 
of visual range. Aided by frequent reports from the shadowing cruisers, 
the Duke of York closed in rapidly, coming within radar range at 1617 
and taking the Scharnhorst completely by surprise with the first 14-inch 
salvo fired at 1650. Outnumbered and outgunned, but, with a rated 
speed of 31 knots, faster than the British battleship and cruisers, the 
Scharnhorst reversed course and attempted to withdraw. For more 
than an hour, in a running battle, it looked as though she might escape, 
but at 1819 she reported receiving radar-directed fire at a range of more 
than 10 miles. Shortly thereafter, her speed began to drop off. At 
1825 Admiral Bey sent his final message: "To the Fuehrer — We will 
fight to the last shell." 

An hour later, after the 77th salvo, the Duke of York ceased firing 
and sent in two cruisers and the destroyers to deliver torpedo attacks. 
Together they fired 55 torpedos, leaving the Scharnhorst dead in the 
water shrouded in a dense cloud of smoke. At 1945 the battleship 
exploded and sank, taking down with her all but 36 of the nearly 2,000 
men in her crew. 77 

The Naval Staff blamed the loss of the Scharnhorst on superior British 
radar and inadequate German aerial reconnaissance. Slight comfort 
as it might have been, the sinking confirmed a prediction Hitler had 
made in March 1943. At a conference in which Doenitz argued for 
keeping the battleships in commission, Hitler had complained that the 
history of the surface fleet had been nothing but a series of defeats, begin- 
ning with the Graf Spee. The large ships, he had insisted, were a thing 

"Naval War Diary, Vol. 50, pp. 16, 233, 254, 264, 279, 281, 294-312. Morison, 
op. ext., Vol. X, pp. 236-43. Churchill, op. cit., Vol. V, p. 275. 


of the past, and he preferred having the steel and nickel contained in 
them to sending them into action again. When Doenitz undertook to 
find a suitable target for the ships within three months, he had replied, 
"Even if it should require six months, you will then return and be forced 
to admit that I was right." 78 

Fuehrer Conferences, 1943, p. 14. 


Chapter 13 
Finland Leaves the War 

The Stagnant Front, January to June 1944 

After a year of maintaining an increasingly precarious grip on Lenin- 
grad, the Army Group North in January 1944 saw the handwriting on 
the wall. At the turn of the year both the army group and the Chief of 
Staff, OKH, argued for an immediate withdrawal to the Panther 
Line as the sole means of forestalling a disaster. Hitler, worried about 
the effects on Finland and the consequences of Russia's gaining egress 
to the Baltic Sea, delayed the decision. The Russians, for their part, 
were not yet ready to exploit the strategic possibilities of their salient at 
Nevel. On 14 January they began an offensive against the Eighteenth 
Army, concentrating on the Oranienbaum and Leningrad sectors and on 
the anchor of the army right flank at Novgorod. For two days it ap- 
peared that another defensive battle was developing which the army 
group might be able to weather as it had those in the previous year, but 
by the 17th the Russians had broken out of the Oranienbaum pocket 
and were rapidly encircling Novgorod. On the following day Kuech- 
ler was forced to order withdrawals from the shore of the Gulf of Fin- 
land between Oranienbaum and Leningrad and from the advanced 
positions east of Leningrad. 

On the 19th the Soviet Union announced the liberation of Leningrad 
as a major victory. Of greater tactical importance were the establish- 
ment of contact between the Oranienbaum garrison and the Soviet main 
forces and the encirclement of Novgorod. To gain reserves, Kuechler 
asked permission to shorten his line east of Leningrad and to evacuate 
Novgorod, which would soon fall in any case. Hitler agreed reluctantly 
and then tried to take back his consent but was told that the orders had 
been given and could not be recalled. Even before the withdrawal 
began, Kuechler was convinced that he could not make a stand any- 
where east of the Panther Line. Hitler, maintaining that the Army 
Group North was not capable of judging what constituted a crisis, re- 
fused to give ground except locally and piecemeal. Finally, on 30 
January, with the Eighteenth Army down to an infantry strength of 
17,000 men and after Kuechler twice went to Fuehrer Headquarters 


to argue with Hitler in person, he ordered the army group to pull back 
to the Luga River line. This line existed for the most part only on 
paper, and the Soviets had already penetrated it at one point. On the 
following day Hitler dismissed Kuechler and placed Generaloberst Wal- 
ter Model in command of the Army Group North. 1 

By the end of the month it had become necessary for the OKW to 
take up the subject of the Army Group North with Mannerheim. He 
was told of the intention to hold the Luga line and was asked to suggest 
how Germany might help in strengthening the Finnish front to compen- 
sate for the increased Soviet threat. 2 In response, on 1 February, the 
Marshal proposed that the Twentieth Mountain Army extend its right 
flank south to take in the Ukhta sector, which would release one Finnish 

Informed of this request, Dietl, irritated by recent Finnish protests 
against even the smallest withdrawals of German troops from Finland, 
objected strenuously. He insisted that it was a waste of manpower to tie 
down additional German troops on a secondary front in Finland and 
that Finland, "through greater efforts in the sense of total war," was 
entirely capable of creating a reserve division out of its own resources 
"without laying claims on the German Army which is already carrying 
the entire burden." He proposed, instead, to call on Mannerheim not 
to raise any objections if the Twentieth Mountain Army were to offer 
all the troops it could spare to the Army Group North, "which is also 
fighting in Finland." 3 The OKW, on the other hand, having already 
committed itself not to reduce the strength of the Twentieth Mountain 
Army, was relieved to find Mannerheim's demand so modest and 
hastened to comply, ordering Dietl to take over Ukhta as quickly as 
possible. 4 

The retreat of the Army Group North had a more shattering effect 
in Finland than Mannerheim's response to the OKW communication 
indicated. On 12 February, as Russian troops threatened the city of 
Narva on the left flank of the Panther Line and under the influence 
of a United States note warning Finland that the longer she continued 
the war the more unfavorable the terms of peace would become, the 
Finnish Government dispatched the former prime minister and last 
ambassador to the Soviet Union, Dr. Juho K. Paasikivi, to Stockholm 
to receive the Russian peace terms from the Soviet Minister, Madame 
Alexandra Kollontay. The terms which Paasikivi brought back em- 
braced restoration of the Treaty of Moscow ( 1 940 ) , internment of the 

1 H. Gr. Nord, Kriegstagebuch, 1/44, 20-31 Jan 44. H. Gr. Nord 75128/33. 

2 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1. Jan— 
31. Mar 1944, 4. OKW/2040. 

3 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 5/44, an OKW, WFSt, 3.2.44, in Chefsachen-Anlagen- 
band, 1.1.44-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 

* OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1. Jan— 
31. Mar 1944. OKW/2040. 


German troops in Finland, demobilization, and reparations. They 
were more stringent than had been expected, and the internment of the 
Twentieth Mountain Army in particular the Finns considered a technical 
impossibility. On 8 March the Finnish Government rejected the Soviet 
terms but indicated a desire to negotiate further. 5 

Since Stalin had promised Roosevelt and Churchill at Teheran in 
December 1943 to offer Finland a negotiated peace which would pre- 
serve her national independence, the Soviet Union did not accept the 
Finnish action as final and offered to receive Finnish representatives for 
the purpose of clarifying the terms— possibly with the intention of re- 
gaining a free hand through an irrevocable Finnish rejection. On 26 
March Paasikivi and the former Foreign Minister Carl Enckell flew to 
Moscow where in meetings with Molotov they were given the condi- 
tions which Stalin had outlined to Roosevelt and Churchill: 

1. Internment or expulsion of all German troops in Finland by the 
end of April. 

2. Restoration of the 1940 borders. 

3. Exchange of prisoners. 

4. Demobilization of the Finnish Armed Forces. 

5. Reparations amounting to six hundred million dollars to be paid 
in kind over a period of five years. 

6. Pechenga to be returned to the Soviet Union. 

7. The Soviet Union to relinquish its claim to Hanko (in return for 
Pechenga) . 6 

The Finns rejected the second set of Soviet demands on 18 April. 
Still holding great stretches of Soviet territory and having an undefeated 
army in the field, they had obviously hoped to make a better bargain. 
Furthermore, the alarm approaching panic which had motivated 
Paasikivi's trip to Stockholm in February had gradually subsided as the 
Army Group North, under Model's command, completed its withdrawal 
to the Panther Line in the first week of March and in the succeeding 
weeks managed to establish a stable front there. Also important was 
the realization, sharply brought home by the German occupation of 
Hungary in March, that the German response to Finland's defection 
might be violent. 

The Finnish peace move, unwelcome as it was, came as no surprise 
to the Germans. In the first stages of the Finnish-Soviet negotiations 
the German Government adopted an attitude of restraint since it could 
be assumed with some certainty that Finland was not yet ready for peace 
at any price, and the Soviet terms might prove to be the best remedy for 
the Finnish peace fever. As the situation of the Army Group North 
became stabilized and Finnish dismay at Stalin's terms grew, Hitler began 
taking steps toward forcing Finland into an unequivocal adherence to 

6 Ibid., p. 11. Bluecher, op. cit., pp. 351-56. 

8 Bluecher, op. cit., p. 359. Churchill, op. cit., Vol V, p. 400. 


the German cause. In March he reduced the flow of weapons to Fin- 
land, and in the first week of April he instructed Dietl to inform Man- 
nerheim that German weapons could not be given as long as there was 
a possibility that they might fall into the hands of the enemy. On 13 
April, the day after the Finnish Parliament voted to refuse the Soviet 
terms, he ordered grain shipments to Finland halted and on the 18th 
stopped shipment of war materiel. The adoption of these last two 
measures was not admitted to the Finns, but their effects were felt in 
Finland immediately. 7 

At the end of April the Finnish Chief of Staff, Heinrichs, was invited 
to Fuehrer Headquarters at Berchtesgaden. There, after Keitel had 
taken him to task over recent Finnish policy, Jodl adopted a more 
friendly tone and told Heinrichs that an authoritative declaration was 
needed to the effect that German military equipment furnished to Finland 
would not fall into the hands of the Russians. 8 In May Mannerheim 
attempted to fulfill the German requirement by a personal letter to 
Hitler. Hitler refused to lift the embargo on the ground that the Man- 
nerheim letter was too cautious and diplomatic in tone, but agreed to 
let Finland have enough weapons to continue fighting. In early June 
an appeal from Heinrichs to Keitel brought another refusal, with the 
proviso that specific Finnish requests would be considered on an 
individual basis. 9 

From January to June 1944 the front zone of the Finnish Army was 
quiet, but in February the Russians began bringing up additional troops 
opposite the Twentieth Mountain Army. By early March the number 
of Red Army troops in the Twentieth Mountain Army zone had risen 
from about 100,000 to between 147,000 and 163,000, and all signs 
pointed to a full-scale Russian offensive before the end of the month. 
The point of greatest danger was the XXXVI Mountain Corps sector 
where the Russians had brought up two new divisions and four brigades 
plus rocket launchers and artillery and had extended their right flank 
northwestward to gain a favorable jump-off line. 10 On 22 March the 
Twentieth Mountain Army informed its corps that the Russian prepara- 
tions had been completed to the point where an attack could begin at 
any time and ordered them to hold their lines at all costs, because the 
army could not abandon the positions on which it had expended two 
years of effort without risking disastrous losses. 11 At Dietl's request 

' OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kreigsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31.12.1944, pp. 5-7. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 1795-PS. 
8 Erfurth, op. cit., p. 143. 

" OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. , Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31.12.44; pp. 9-11. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

10 (Geb.) AOK 20, Ic, Nr. 1210/44, Taetigkeitsbericht der Abteilung Ic fuer die 
Zeit vom 1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58631/1. 

11 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Op., Nr. 352/44, an XVII A.K., XXXVI A.K., XIX A.K., 
23.3.44, in K.T.B., AOK 20 Anlagen 1 .3.-31 .3.44. AOK 20 58629/4. 


Mannerheim stationed the Finnish 3d Brigade and two independent 
battalions as reserves in the Twentieth Mountain Army area. 

As March drew to a close and the spring thaws approached in April, 
the danger of a Soviet offensive subsided. The Twentieth Mountain 
Army concluded that the build-up had been associated with the Finnish- 
Soviet peace talks and that an offensive would have followed had the 
Finns accepted an armistice. In April Dietl attempted to secure Man- 
nerheim's support for a limited offensive to remove the threat to the 
northern flank of the XXXVI Mountain Corps. The Marshal re- 
fused to commit Finnish troops; consequently, the Twentieth Mountain 
Army had to accept the existence of a precarious situation in the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps sector and lesser tactical disadvantages in the sectors of 
its other two corps as permanent. 12 By the first week of June there were 
no signs of impending activity anywhere on the German front in Fin- 
land, and all indications pointed to another quiet summer. 


The danger of Finnish defection in February 1944 immediately re- 
vived planning for the execution of Fuehrer Directive No. 50. 1S It also 
brought to the fore the problem of preserving German control of the 
Baltic Sea. With Leningrad liberated and Army Group North not 
likely to hold east of Narva, the stranglehold on the Soviet Baltic Fleet 
had already relaxed somewhat. A Finnish-Soviet armistice threatened 
to knock all of the props out from under German strategy in the Baltic. 
In neutral Finnish or in Russian hands Suursaari and Hanko would no 
longer serve as corks to keep the Soviet naval forces bottled up in the 
eastern end of the Gulf of Finland, and the Aland Islands could be used 
to stop the Lulea ore traffic. Once Russian naval units could roam the 
Baltic at will, submarine training would have to cease and the fate of the 
submarine fleet would be sealed. 

With these considerations in mind Hider on 16 February ordered that 
in the event of a Finnish change of course the Aland Islands and 
Suursaari were to be occupied immediately. Under the code names 
Tanne West (Aland Island) and Tanne Ost (Suursaari) the OKW 
instituted the necessary preparations. The 416th Infantry Division, in 
Denmark, and a parachute regiment were earmarked for the Alands 
operation, and the provision of troops for Suursaari was made a respon- 
sibility of the Army Group North. Finnish resistance was not expected. 
(In June, at the height of the Soviet summer offensive against Finland, 
the troops for the Tanne operations were placed on the alert; and at 
the same time, as an additional precaution, Hitler ordered all. leave 

12 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 96/44, K.T.B. Notiz ueber Besuch des Oberbefehlshabers 
im finnischen Hauptquartier, Mikkeli, in K.T.B. , Chefsachen-Anlagenband, 1.1- 
30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 

13 See above, p. 249. 


Reindeer patrol. 

troops returning to the Twentieth Mountain Army held at Gdynia as a 
force for the possible occupation of Hanko, ) Control of the Tanne 
operations remained in the hands of the OKW which assigned the 
tactical direction to OKM and OKL " 

Meanwhile, the Twentieth Mountain Army prepared a plan of opera- 
tions, given the code name Birke, based on Fuehrer Directive No, 50, 
The mission of the Twentieth Mountain Army, in the event that Finland 
dropped out of the war, was to hold northern Finland for the sake of 
the nickel mines. For that purpose the army would swing its right flank 
back to a line running roughly from Karesuando near the Swedish 
border to the Arctic Ocean Highway south of Ivalo. The maneuver 
was to be completed in two phases. In the first phase the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps and the XVIII Mountain Corps would pull out of the 
Kandalaksha, Luokhi, and Ukhta sectors and fall back to Rovanieml, 
establishing a screening front east of Rovaniemi on the line Kemiyarvi- 
Autinkyla which was to be held until the main force had safely passed 
northward through Rovaniemi. In the second phase the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps would proceed northward along the Arctic Ocean 
Highway to its new sector south of Ivalo and tie in with the right flank 
of the XIX Mountain Corps. The XVIII Mountain Corps would 
move northwestward over the Rovaniemi-Skibotten route and take up 
positions northeast of the Swedish border in the vicinity of Karesuando. 
A definitive plan for the second phase could not be made in advance 
because its execution depended on the season. In summer it could be 

"OKW, WFSi, K.T.B, Ausarbekung, Der noerdlicke Kriegsschauplatz, 1.1.- 
31.3,44, pp. 7, 25. OKW/2040. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. AttsarbeUung, Der 
noerdlicke Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-3 LI 2.44. I.M.T-, Doc. 1795-PS. 


carried out as described, but in winter the Finnish end of the Rovaniemi- 
Skibotten route was impassable. In winter, therefore, both the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps and the XVIII Mountain Corps would have to move 
north over the Arctic Ocean Highway, with the XVIII Mountain Corps 
continuing on into northern Norway and the XXXVI Mountain Corps 
providing troops to man the Karesuando positions. 15 

The drawbacks to Birke were numerous. The most serious of them 
was, as the Twentieth Mountain Army had pointed out when Fuehrer 
Directive No. 50 was first issued, that, were the sea route around north- 
ern Norway cut, both the ore and supply shipments would stop imme- 
diately, and thereafter the Twentieth Mountain Army could only hold 
out for a few months. In addition, the execution of Birke promised 
to be risky. The Twentieth Mountain Army did not have enough 
manpower to construct suitable positions at Ivalo and Karesuando in 
advance and, in any case, could not start work without revealing its 
intentions to the Finns. The withdrawal itself would be confined to 
a few roads, difficult to keep open in winter and exposed to round-the- 
clock air attacks in summer; and in northern Finland the army would 
have to establish a new front under highly unfavorable conditions of 
climate and terrain. A final possibility was that Sweden, whose atti- 
tude was doubtful at best, would be forced to permit transit of Russian 
troops as it had of German troops in 1941. The Russians could then 
strike at the exposed right flank of the Karesuando positions or advance 
to Narvik, cutting off the Twentieth Mountain Army's line of retreat. 
All of these considerations Dietl laid before Hitler during his last visit 
to Fuehrer Headquarters on 22 June 1944. 16 

The Soviet Summer Offensive 

The Attack 

The black day of the Finnish Army was 10 June 1944. After a mas- 
sive artillery and air preparation accompanied by probing attacks on 
9 June, the Soviet Twenty-first Army on the morning of the 10th con- 
centrated the full force of its attack on the left-flank division of the 
Finnish IV Corps holding the western side of the front on the Isthmus 
of Karelia. In a massive assault three Russian divisions annihilated 
one regiment of the Finnish division, and before noon the Russians 
had broken through the Finnish front to a distance of approximately 
six miles. 

Although there had been advance warnings the Russian offensive 
took the Finnish High Command by surprise. During May there had 

16 (Geb.)AOK 20, la, Op., Nr. 92/44, Armeebefehl Nr. 1 fuer die Durchfuehrung 
von "Birke," in K.T.B., Chefsachen-Anlagenband, 1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 

16 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 231/44, Notizen fuer Vortrag beim Fuehrer, 16.6.44, 
in K.T.B., Chefsachen-Anlagenband, 1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 


been indications of an attack in the making, and on 1 June Finnish 
Army Intelligence warned that an offensive was to be expected within 
ten days. Four or five days before the attack the Russians began radio 
silence— an almost infallible sign. But the Army operations chief was 
not convinced, and his judgment carried the greatest weight with 
Mannerheim. 17 

When the attack began the III Corps held the left and the IV Corps 
the right flank of the Finnish front on the Isthmus. Together they had 
three divisions in the line and one brigade in reserve. In the second 
line stood another three divisions plus one brigade engaged in con- 
structing fortifications. Lastly, the Finnish Armored Division was sta- 
tioned east of Vyborg. On the Isthmus the Finns had three defense 
lines. The first of them, the front, roughly followed the old Finnish- 
Soviet border. The second, immediately to the rear, laid out in terrain 
militarily more advantageous than the first, ran in an almost straight 
line across the Isthmus from Vammelsuu on the Gulf of Finland to 
Taipale on Lake Ladoga. The third ran from Vyborg to Kuparsaari 
and thence along the north bank of the Vouksi River to Taipale. It 
had strong natural advantages but had not been placed under con- 
struction until November 1943 and was far from completion. 18 Between 
the third Isthmus line and the heart of Finland there was the so-called 
Moscow Line along the 1940 border. It had some concrete fortifica- 
tions, and additional construction was in progress, but it had no natural 
advantages and could only be used for a last ditch stand. 

Concerning the Finns' capacity for resistance the Germans had had 
severe doubts at least since early 1943. In June 1943 Dietl repeated his 
prediction made in February of that year that the Finnish Army would 
not be able to withstand a strong Soviet attack. The Finns, he stated, 
were superior to the Germans as forest fighters and in dealing with ad- 
verse conditions of terrain and climate, but they preferred to avoid 
pitched battles. 19 In July 1944, after the Russian summer offensive 
had passed its peak, an OKW observer concluded that the Finnish set- 
backs could be blamed, at least in part, on lack of training and neglect 
of fortifications. He also believed that in June 1944 the Finns had no 
longer expected a Russian attack and that, until the shock of the break- 
through on 10 June produced a more realistic judgment, they had a 
tendency, induced by their experiences in the Winter War and 1941, to 
underestimate the enemy. This last criticism was one from which the 
Germans extracted a degree of wry satisfaction since they had long felt 
that the Finns failed to appreciate fully the nature of Germany's prob- 
lems on the Eastern Front. There was also a feeling that the Finns 

17 General der Infanterie a.D. Waldemar Erfurth, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945, June 1957. 

18 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 501, 507. 

19 OKW, WFSt, Op. (H), Nr. 003072/43, Bericht ueber die Reise des Majors 
d.G. Jordan nach Finnland vom 7. bis 23.6.43. OKW/56. 


had failed to adapt to the conditions of total war — the near-peacetime 
conditions prevailing on the home front were frequently cited — and 
were trying to get through the war with as little inconvenience to them- 
selves as possible. 20 

To achieve and exploit their breakthrough the Russians had assem- 
bled 10 rifle divisions and the approximate equivalent of 3 tank divisions 
in addition to the 3 static divisions already in the front on the Isthmus 
of Karelia. In the assault area their artillery reportedly numbered 300 
to 400 guns per kilometer of front. 21 For striking power the Soviet com- 
mand relied almost exclusively on its tremendous superiority in tanks, 
artillery, and aircraft. The rifle divisions were weak, averaging about 
6,200 men each, and their will to fight declined rapidly after the first 
few days of combat. The Russian tactics, concentration on a narrow 
front with a tremendous commitment of materiel and — following the 
breakthrough — exploitation by several corps abreast, followed a pattern 
which the German armies on the Eastern Front had come to regard 
as standard. 22 

Immediately after the Russian breakthrough on 10 June it was clear 
that the IV Corps could not hold in front of the second line. Manner- 
heim gave the IV Corps a division from the reserve, a regiment of the 
III Corps, ordered the Armored Division to move up from Vyborg, and 
set in motion the transfer of one division from East Karelia and recall 
of the 3d Brigade from the Twentieth Mountain Army. By the 12th 
the IV Corps had withdrawn to the second line. The III Corps, which 
had not been under attack, was then also ordered back. On the same 
day Mannerheim ordered a division and a brigade out of East Karelia 
to the Isthmus and asked the OKW to release the weapons and grain 
which had been intended for Finland but were held in Germany by 
Hider's embargo. On the following day Hitler agreed. 23 

Its chances of holding the second line slim, the Finnish High Com- 
mand was forced to consider radical measures. On 13 June Hein- 
richs told Dietl that, if the second line were lost, the Finnish intention 
was to give up the Svir and Maaselka fronts and pull back in East 
Karelia to a short line northeast of Lake Ladoga, thus freeing two to 
three additional divisions for the Isthmus. Since November 1943 
work had been in progress on the so-called U-Line, the line of the Uksu 
River— Loimola Lake— Tolva Lake. Dietl urged the Finns to carry out 
that intention, but he feared that out of reluctance to give up East 
Karelia they would hesitate too long. 24 Later he recommended to 

20 Ibid. OKW, WFSt, Op. {H), 007561/44, Reisebericht ueber Frontbesuch in 
Suedfinnldnd, 13.7.44. OKW/56. 

21 OKW, WFSt, Ic/II, Nr. 04451/44, Notiz zur Feindlage Finnland und (Geb.) 
AOK 20, 17.6.44, in Feindlage Nord. OKW/1559. Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 507. 

22 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 2624/44, Fuehrungsanordnungen Nr. 18, 21.7.44, in 
Taetigkeitsberichte Monat Juli 1944. AOK 20 65635/3. 

23 Erfurth, op. cit., p. 187. Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 508. 

24 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 229/44, an OKW, WFSt, Herrn Generaloberst Jodl, 
14.6.44, in K.T.B., Chefsachen-Anlagenband, 1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 


Map 21 

Hitler that German policy be to tie the Finns to Germany by giving 
them as much support as possible and to hold them to complete oper- 
ational measures, not allowing them to dissipate their strength in at- 
tempts to hang on in East Karelia. On the shorter line, he thought, 
Finland might hold out indefinitely, which would assure preservation 
of Finland and, at the same time, spare the Twentieth Mountain 
Army the necessity of executing Operation Birke. 25 

While Dietl was at Mikkeli the second line on the Isthmus was already 
under attack. It held for a day; but on 14 June the Russians brought 
up their heavy weapons and, since — as a captured map later revealed — 
they had reconnoitered the second line in detail before the offensive be- 
gan, were able to attack in force immediately. Overwhelming the 
Finns a second time with the weight of their artillery fire and tanks, they 
broke through the second line at the village of Kutersel'ka and by 15 
June had smashed the Finnish front on an eight-mile stretch from 
Kutersel'ka to the coast. By then it was apparent that the Russians' 
main effort would be directed along the railroad line to Vyborg. The 
Finns had virtually no hope of stopping them short of the city and were 
worried by the danger that they could reach and close the seventeen- 
mile- wide narrows between Vyborg and the Vuoksi River before III 
and IV Corps could be withdrawn. Such a maneuver would in all 
probability be decisive, for it would end all hopes of holding the Vyborg- 
Vuoksi line and would force the III and IV Corps to withdraw north- 
ward across the Vuoksi and, because there was only one bridge across 
the river, abandon much of their heavy equipment on the way. 

On 16 June Mannerheim ordered the withdrawal to the Vyborg- 
Vuoksi Line. On the 20th, after four more days of heavy fighting, the 
IV Corps, under continuing Russian pressure, moved into the line be- 
tween Vyborg and the river while the III Corps established itself on 
the north bank of the Vuoksi and held a bridgehead on the south bank 
across from Vuosalmi. Once again the Finnish Army stood on the 
line where it had stopped the Russians in 1940. The "withdrawal had 
gone better than might have been expected, chiefly because the Russians, 
rigidly intent on the city of Vyborg, failed to strike toward the Vyborg- 
Vuoksi narrows. But the Finns still had no cause for optimism. The 
Russian forces on the Isthmus had been gradually increased to 20 rifle 
divisions, 4 tank brigades, 5 to 6 tank regiments, and 4 self-propelled 
assault gun regiments. Against these the Finns, drawing on the last units 
which could be spared from East Karelia, could assemble no more than 10 
divisions and 4 brigades. 26 

25 (Geb.) AOK 20 la, Nr. 231/44, Notizen fiter Vortag beim Fuehrer, 16.6.44, in 
K.T.B., Chefsachen-Anlagenband, 1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 

26 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 511. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerd- 
liche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, pp. 18-22. I.M.T. Doc. 1795-PS. 


Political Developments and German Aid 

The military crisis resulting from loss of the second line on the Isthmus 
inevitably brought a political crisis in its wake. On 18 June the Finnish 
Cabinet held a long meeting. Concerning its results the German Min- 
ister could only secure evasive answers. On the evening of the 19th 
Heinrichs asked Erfurth whether Germany was willing to provide aid 
other than weapons, specifically six divisions to take over the front in 
East Karelia and release Finnish troops for the Isthmus. Mannerheim 
repeated this request on the following day. At about the same time the 
Finns reestablished contact with the Soviet Government. 

In Germany the necessity for extending help to Finland had already 
been recognized and accepted even though the Germans themselves 
faced a dangerous situation in Normandy and expected the greatest 
Soviet offensive of the war to break loose any day. Hitler lifted the 
embargo on shipments to Finland on 13 June, and on the 19th torpedo 
boats delivered 9,000 Panzer faust (antitank grenades). Three days 
later 5,000 Panzer schreck (bazookas) were airlifted to Finland. To give 
the six divisions Mannerheim requested was impossible, but on the 20th 
the OKW informed him that Germany was ready to give every kind of 
help if the Finnish Army was actually determined to hold the Vyborg- 
Vuoksi Line. Aside from weapons and supplies, the Germans offered the 
122d Infantry Division, a self-propelled assault gun brigade (the 303d), 
and air units consisting of a fighter group and a ground attack close sup- 
port group (Stukas) plus one squadron. The ground troops were drawn 
from the Army Group North and the air units from the Fifth Air Force 
in Finland and the First Air Force with the Army Group North. The 
aircraft were transferred immediately and on 2 1 June flew 940 support 
missions for the Finnish Army. 27 

Although the German aid was offered and, in part, delivered without 
a prior commitment on Finland's part, its price was well known to both 
parties. On 21 June Mannerheim informed Hitler that Finland was 
prepared to establish closer ties with Germany, and on the following day 
Ribbentrop flew to Helsinki to conduct the negotiations in person. 28 
That the Foreign Minister himself undertook the mission indicated a 
determination to bind Finland to Germany unequivocally. For this 
reason his unannounced appearance in Finland, aside from being a 
surprise, aroused dismay in the Finnish Government. 

The negotiations, which Ribbentrop conducted in the high-pressure 
manner for which he was noted, did not go smoothly. Both sides 
recognized that in view of the strong sentiment for peace, which had 
already resulted in a movement to bring to power a government under 
Paasikivi, the Finns could not give a declaration which had to be ratified 

27 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31.12.44, pp. 22 and 27-29. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

28 Ibid. p. 24. 


by Parliament. The Germans offered to compromise and accepted a 
declaration signed by the President. 29 On 23 June the German position 
was strengthened when the Soviet Government informed the Finns that 
it would not open negotiations until the President and Foreign Minister 
declared in writing that Finland was ready to capitulate and turned to 
the Soviet Union with an appeal for peace. 30 On the 24th Ryti and 
Ramsay conferred with Mannerheim at Mikkeli, and on the next day 
Hitler added pressure with a directive which stated categorically that 
a public clarification of Finland's attitude was to be secured. If such 
a clarification could not be achieved, support for Finland would stop. 31 
Late on the night of 26 June Ryti called in Ribbentrop and handed him 
a letter in which he stated that he, as President of Finland, would not 
make peace with the Soviet Union without the consent of the German 
Government and that he would not permit any government appointed by 
him or any other persons to conduct armistice or peace talks or negotia- 
tions serving those purposes without German consent. 32 

Ribbentrop returned to Germany in triumph, but with a contract 
which was unenforceable by any means at Germany's command. The 
end result of his mission was to obscure the obvious generosity of Ger- 
man aid extended at a time when it could scarcely be spared and to 
arouse, instead, in the minds of the Finns a feeling that they had been 
made victims of blackmail in their hour of greatest need. While this 
cannot be said to have affected materially future Finnish actions, it 
went far toward relieving any moral qualms they might have had con- 
cerning the course they were about to pursue. 

Within a week after the Ryti letter was signed the United States 
broke off diplomatic relations with Finland. The Finnish Minister in 
Washington and his principal aides had already been handed their 
passports and ordered out of the country in June. Although this was 
a severe blow, the fact that a declaration of war did not follow could, 
in the long run, be regarded as a major accomplishment of Finnish 
diplomacy: Finland had weathered the war without an irrevocable 
break in its ties with the democracies. 

The oppressive atmosphere surrounding the June negotiations was 
deepened by Dietl's death on 23 June. He had conferred with Hitler 
on the previous day and Was returning to Finland when his plane 
crashed in the Austrian Alps. The accident was kept secret for several 
days for fear of its effect on the negotiations. On 28 June Generaloberst 
Lothar Rendulic took command of the Twentieth Mountain Army. 

For the Finns the June negotiations had one purpose — to secure 
assistance in stopping the Russian offensive. The Ryti letter achieved 
that purpose, but the aid that came was less than the Finns expected. 

29 Bluecher, op. cit., p. 371. 

30 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 513. 

31 Bluecher, op. cit., p. 372. 

32 Bluecher, op. cit., p. 372. 


It was in fact less than the Germans had intended to give, for, in the 
meantime, the massive Russian offensive against the Army Group Cen- 
ter which began on 22 June had imposed a nearly overwhelming drain 
on German resources. The 303d Self-propelled Assault Gun Brigade 
reached Finland on 23 June, and the 122d Infantry Division arrived 
five days later. But a second assault gun brigade intended for Finland 
had to be diverted to the Army Group Center at the last minute, and 
a corps headquarters to command the German units in Finland, al- 
though pulled out of the southern sector of the Eastern Front, was 
never sent. 33 German weapons and supplies, including some tanks and 
heavy equipment, continued to flow to Finland. The Panzerfaust and 
Panzerschreck, once they had been proved effective, greatly increased 
the Finns' ability to withstand Russian tank attacks and played a major 
role in restoring the confidence of the Finnish Army. 

The Last Phase 

On 21 June the Russians occupied Vyborg, which the Finns had 
evacuated a day earlier. Although there had been no intention to de- 
fend the old city, its loss was a blow to Finnish morale. Between Vy- 
borg and the Vuoksi, Russian pressure continued heavy, and on 25 
June they threw ten divisions reinforced by assault artillery against the 
front near Repola, penetrating the line to a distance of some two and 
one-half miles. In four days of heavy fighting the Finns managed to 
seal off the penetration but without restoring their former front. The 
Russians remained in possession of a salient which was the more 
dangerous in that it brought them close to terrain favorable for 
armored operations. 34 

On 16 June Mannerheim had issued orders for withdrawal from East 
Karelia. The intention was to pull back gradually from the Svir and 
Maaselka lines to the general line Uksa River-Suo Lake-Poros Lake. 35 
At the last minute, as the withdrawal was starting, the OKW tried 
without success to persuade him not to give up East Karelia. 36 In this 
respect the OKW directly contradicted the advice which Diet! had given. 
Its decision to do so probably rested on several considerations. In the 
first place, it had become an obsession with Hitler never to give ground 
voluntarily. Even more important in this instance was the fact that in 
giving up East Karelia the Finns would lose their principal war gain, 
their last lever for bargaining with the Soviet Union, and, consequently, 
their motivation for remaining in the war. Furthermore, with a major 

33 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.— 
31.12.44, pp. 29-30. I.M.T. Doc. 1795-PS. 

34 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 515. OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, der noerd- 
liche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.-31.12.44, p. 31. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

35 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 234/44, 17.6.44, in K.T.B., Chefsachen Anlagenband, 
1.1.-30.6.44. AOK 20 58629/10. 

86 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31. 12.44, p. 30. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. . 


offensive in the offing on the Eastern Front, it could be assumed that the 
Russians would stop short of an all-out effort at a decision in Finland. 
The OKW line of reasoning had much to recommend it — from the 
German point of view but not from the Finnish. The Finns had no 
taste for desperate gambles and, for that matter, although they seemed 
to be acting in agreement with Dietl's recommendations, neither had 
they any enthusiasm for last stands in the Goetterdaemmerung vein. 

In the Maaselka and Aunus (Svir) Fronts the Finns had a total of 
four divisions and two brigades. Opposite them stood eleven Russian 
divisions and six brigades. By evacuating their large bridgehead south 
of the Svir on 18 June they escaped a Russian attack which began the 
following day, but thereafter the withdrawal went less smoothly than 
had been expected. The Russians kept up an aggressive pursuit and, by 
crossing the Svir on either side of Lodeynoye Pole and staging a landing 
on the Ladoga shore between Tuloksa and Vidlitsa, threatened to push 
the Finnish divisions back into the wilderness on the eastern side of the^ 
Isthmus of Olonets. On 30 June the Finns evacuated Petrozavodsk, 
and two days later they pulled out of Salmi. By 10 July the Finnish 
divisions were in the U-Line. With Russian pressure continuing strong, 
the Finns were by no means certain that they could hold the front, and 
they began work on new positions between Yanis Lake and Lake Ladoga. 
A further withdrawal to the Moscow Line also came under 
consideration. 37 

In the first days of July the Finns were given a short respite, at least 
on the Isthmus of Karelia. On the 4th the Russians occupied the islands 
in Vyborg Bay and attempted a landing on the north shore. There they 
ran into the 122d Infantry Division, which was moving up, and were 
thrown back. At the same time they attacked the Finnish bridgehead 
south of Vuosalmi, but otherwise they confined themselves to local at- 
tacks and regrouping, giving the Finns an opportunity to strengthen 
their defenses. 38 

In the Finnish High Command concern for the future was growing, 
particularly with respect to manpower. At the end of June casualties 
had reached 18,000, of which only 12,000 could be replaced. On 1 
July Mannerheim asked for a second German division and additional 
self-propelled assault gun units. When Hitler countered with nothing 
more than a promise to build the assault gun battalion of the 122d In- 
fantry Division up to brigade strength Mannerheim protested that in 
advising his Government to accept the German proposals during the 
June negotiations he had assumed a heavy responsibility; if the Ger- 
man units were not forthcoming, not only would the military situation 
deteriorate, but his political prestige would be destroyed. Hitler, in 

31 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 518. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 192, 194, 199, 207. OKW, 
WFSt, Op. (H), Nr. 007561/44, Reisebericht ueber Frontbesuch in Suedfinnland, 
13.7.44. OKW/56. 

38 Erfurth, op. cit., p. 199. 


reply, offered one self-propelled assault gun brigade before 10 July, 
another to be sent later, and tanks, assault guns, antitank guns, and 
artillery. 39 

In the second week of July the Finns were forced to give up their 
positions on the right bank of the Vuoksi south of Vuosalmi. The 
Russians, in turn, gained a bridgehead of their own on the north bank. 
Lacking the strength to eliminate the bridgehead, the Finns had to 
undertake to contain it. Despite this dangerous development and con- 
tinued heavy fighting which brought the number of Finnish casualties 
up to 32,000 by the 1 1th, the fronts on both sides of Lake Ladoga were 
beginning to stabilize. By 15 July the Finns had detected signs — con- 
firmed several days later — that, although the Russian strength on the 
Isthmus had risen to 26 rifle divisions and 12 to 14 tank brigades, the 
first-rate guard units were being pulled out and replaced with garrison 
troops. It could be expected that the tempo of the offensive would 
be reduced. 40 

While the Finns achieved a degree of equilibrium in the seconcNialf 
of the month, the Army Groups North and Center were experiencing 
a full-scale disaster. In three weeks the Russian offensive had driven 
the Army Group Center back into Poland and nearly to the border of 
East Prussia. By mid- July the time had come to pull the Army Group 
North back behind the Dvina or see it cut off and isolated in the Baltic 
States. Hitler's solution was to place Schoerner, then a Generaloberst, 
in command of the army group with orders to hold the old Panther 
Line between Narva and Pskov at all costs. 41 

On 17 July Hider dispatched one of the self-propelled assault gun 
brigades promised the Finns to the Eastern Front instead and sent the 
second one east also on the following day. These decisions were not 
communicated to Mannerheim until several days later — after the Soviet 
troop withdrawals from the front in Finland had been confirmed. 42 

To the Finns the fate of the Army Group North was nearly as mo- 
mentous as that of their own Army. Once the Baltic coast was in 
Russian hands their supply lines to Germany, on which they depended 
for much of their food and almost all of their military supplies, could 
be cut. The loss of Pskov on 23 July and of Narva on the 27th were 
staggering blows for them. The shock was intensified when, two days 
after the fall of Narva, Hitler ordered the 12 2d Infantry Division back 
to the Army Group North. Mannerheim asked that the division leave 
via Hanko rather than Helsinki in order to avoid alarming the people. 
The OKW explained that the deciding factor had been the relative 

38 OKW,. WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31.12.44, pp. 31ff. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

40 Ibid., pp. 32-34. Erfurth, op. cit.,p. 203. 

41 Kurt von Tippelskirsch, Geschichte des zweiten Weltkriegs (Bonn: Atheneaum- 
Verlag, 1951), pp. 530-42. 

42 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31.12.44,pp.338. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 


quiet on the Finnish front and assured him that he could count on 
German help in any new crisis, but under the circumstances these ex- 
planations must have had a decidedly empty ring. 43 


In a secret meeting on 28 July in Mannerheim's country house at 
Sairala, Ryti announced his intention to resign and urged Mannerheim 
to accept the presidency of Finland. Three days later the resignation 
was submitted, and Parliament drafted a law, passed unanimously on 
4 August, elevating Mannerheim to the presidency without the formality 
of an election. With that, the stage was set for a repudiation of the 
Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement and a new approach to the Soviet Union. 

To the Germans Ryti's resignation came as a surprise. - They assumed 
that the shift would not be advantageous to Germany. Although they 
saw a possibility that Mannerheim might intend to rally the national 
will to resist, it appeared more likely that he would assume the role of 
a peacemaker. Apprehensive, but powerless to exercise any real in- 
fluence over the course of Finnish policy, the Germans in near-panic 
hastened to reassure Mannerheim. On 3 August, in response to a 
Finnish inquiry concerning the situation in the Baltic area, the OKW 
ordered the Commanding General, Army Group North, Schoerner, to 
report to Mannerheim in person immediately. Keitel was to follow 
in a few days. The Schoerner visit surprised nearly everyone, including 
Schoerner himself who asked Erfurth why he had been rushed off to 
Helsinki in such head-over-heels fashion. The Finns took Schoerner's 
sudden appearance as a sign of nervousness and as a too obvious attempt 
to court Mannerheim. 44 

To draw even mildly encouraging conclusions from the situation of 
the Army Group North required a man of Schoerner's zeal and determi- 
nation. Although Narva and Pskov had fallen, most of the Narva- 
Peipus line was still in German hands; but, at the turn of the month, the 
Russians had thrust through to the Baltic near Mitau cutting off and 
isolating the army group. The ominous nature of this development 
was underscored when the Lufthansa suspended air traffic between 
Germany and Finland. Direct telephone communications had been 
broken several days earlier. Undaunted, Schoerner promised that the 
Baltic area would absolutely be held ; the Army Group North would be 
supplied by air and by sea; and armored forces from East Prussia would 
restore the land contact. 45 Remarkably enough, largely as a result of 
the combined wills of Schoerner and Hitler pitted against the logic of 
events, the promise was kept; but, even though Schoerner left Manner- 

43 Ibid., p. 35. 

44 General der Infanterie a.D. Waldemar Erfurth, Comments on Part II of The 
German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940—1945, June 1957. 

45 Ibid., pp. 36-38. Erfurth, op. cit., pp. 207, 210, 21 Iff. 


heim with the impression that his report had had a positive effect, it 
appears that his success, if any, was transitory. Still, the German de- 
termination — more specifically, that of Hitler and Schoerner with an 
assist from the Navy in the interest of submarine warfare — to hold the 
Baltic shore at all costs was of very material benefit to Finland, not in 
encouraging the nation to remain in the war but in affording it an op- 
portunity to make peace before it was completely isolated. 

With the Army Group North making its stand on the shores of the 
Narva River and Lake Peipus and with the Soviet summer offensive 
degenerating into local attacks on the Isthmus of Karelia, the military 
position of Finland in August was, if only for the time being, as favor- 
able as even a confirmed optimist would have dared predict a month 
or so earlier. Between mid- July and mid-August the Russians reduced 
their forces on the Isthmus by 10 rifle divisions and 5 tank brigades. 
On 10 August in East Karelia the Finnish Army ended its last major 
operation in World War II with a victory when the 14th Division, the 
21st Brigade, and the Cavalry Brigade trapped and nearly destroyed 2 
Russian divisions in a pocket east of Ilomantsi. 46 It appeared that as in 
the Winter War, although the Soviet Union could claim a victory, its 
offensive had failed, largely for the same reasons — underestimation of 
the Finnish capacity to resist and rigid, unimaginative Soviet tactical 

Mannerheim believed that in their eagerness to destroy Finland the 
Russians betrayed their promise to the Western Powers to assist the 
Normandy landings and weakened their own offensives against the 
Army Groups Center and North. 47 In the absence of reliable Soviet 
sources no definite conclusions concerning their intentions can be drawn. 
It is unlikely that the offensive against Finland was undertaken with 
deliberate disregard for a promise to aid the landings in Normandy 
with an offensive in the east. The offensive in Finland was a secondary 
effort and was probably staged to fill in time while Stalin waited, first, 
to see whether the Allies would actually invade the Continent and, 
then, to make certain that the invasion was in earnest and had pros- 
pects of success. Probably, the success of the invasion influenced Stalin 
to give up his excursion into Finland and to devote all of his efforts 
to the race for Berlin. 

By the time Keitel went to Helsinki (17 August), carrying an oak 
leaf cluster for Mannerheim and a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for 
Heinrichs, the German situation offered little to sustain even his in- 
domitable optimism. The Allied breakout in Normandy had succeeded, 
and the liberation of Paris was only days away. In southern France the 
Allies were rapidly developing a secondary offensive. In Italy the 
Germans were driven back to the Gothic Line; in the East the Rus- 

** Erfurth, op. cit., p. 216. 

47 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 519—22. 


sians stood on the outskirts of Warsaw. The end for Germany sud- 
denly seemed very close, much closer than it actually was. 

Mannerheim, for his part, took the Keitel visit as an opportunity to 
clear the air, possibly not so much for the Germans' benefit as to open 
the way for a new approach to Moscow. The 60,000 casualties in- 
curred during the summer, he said, had been replaced, but Finland 
could not endure a second bloodletting on that scale. Turning to what 
was probably also uppermost in Keitel's mind, the status of the Ryti- 
Ribbentrop agreement, he stated that Ryti, in a desperate situation, 
had made a contract which proved highly unpopular. Finland be- 
lieved that Ryti's resignation nullified that contract. Keitel, taken 
aback by that blunt statement, in order to protect Germany's legal inter- 
ests, rejected it stating that he was not empowered to receive political 
communications. 48 

In Finland, after the middle of the month, signs of the approaching 
end mushroomed on all sides. Peace sentiment increased with every 
passing day, and rumors of all sorts gained currency. In this atmos- 
phere the report that Rumania had sued for peace struck like a bomb- 
shell. On 25 August, through its legation in Stockholm, Finland asked 
whether the Soviet Government would receive a Finnish peace delega- 
tion. An accompanying verbal note informed the Soviet Government 
that Mannerheim had told Keitel he did not consider himself bound 
by the Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement. 49 Official notice that Finland had 
repudiated the agreement was not sent to Germany until the following 
day. 50 

In its reply on 29 August the Soviet Government made its willingness 
to receive a delegation contingent upon the prior fulfillment of two con- 
ditions: that Finland immediately break off relations with Germany 
and that Finland order all German troops to leave its territory within 
two weeks, at the latest by 15 September, and, in case of the Germans' 
failure to comply, take steps to intern them. The Finnish Parliament 
accepted the conditions on 2 September, and on the same day approved 
a government motion to break off relations with Germany. 

The Finnish decision came as somewhat of a surprise to the Germans. 
Although the German Minister in Helsinki had been informed on 31 
August that negotiations were in progress, it was expected that the Soviet 
terms would prove unacceptable. Several times in the past a glance at 
the Soviet terms had proved the best means of inhibiting the Finnish 
sentiment for peace. On 2 September, in a last minute, heavy-handed 
effort to give impetus to a repetition of that pattern, Rendulic called on 
Mannerheim and emphasized in particular that the Russian demands 

48 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 524. Erfurth, op. cit., p. 217. Bluecher, op. cit., 
pp. 395ff. 

" OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31. 12.44, p. 47. I.M.T.,Doc. 1795-PS. 
60 Erfurth, op. cit., p. 220. 


might bring about a conflict between German and Finnish troops which, 
he maintained, would result in 90 percent losses on both sides since the 
best soldiers in Europe would be opposing each other. 51 

Two problems which worried the Finnish leadership as the end ap- 
proached proved less serious than they might have been. The first of 
these was the danger of an economic collapse when German assistance 
stopped. It was solved in August when Sweden agreed to cover the 
requirements of grain and some other foodstuffs for a six-month period. 
The second, the possibility that some elements of the population, par- 
ticularly in the Army, would refuse to accept the peace and would 
create internal dissension or throw their lot in with the Germans, al- 
though it occasioned some apprehension, never actually arose. During 
the last months, the Germans had toyed with a number of ideas for 
keeping Finnish resistance alive by extralegal means. In June, when 
he went to Helsinki, Ribbentrop had proposed, somewhat wildly, that 
the German Minister find a thousand reliable men to take over the 
government. 52 At the same time, Hitler had instructed Diet! to draw 
Finnish troops into the Twentieth Mountain Army in the event of a 
separate peace. 53 Later Rendulic suggested that the German infantry 
division and assault gun brigade in southern Finland be used as a nu- 
cleus around which a resistance movement could be built and in August 
proposed General Talvela as a man who might be persuaded to lead 
the resistance. 54 None of these projects passed beyond the talking 
stage, and one that was later tried, reactivation of the traditional Fin- 
nish 27th Jaeger Battalion (in the German Army), attracted only a 
scattering of volunteers. 55 The overwhelming majority of the Finnish 
population was willing to follow its government, and the Finnish Gov- 
ernment had been careful throughout the war to prevent the emergence 
of possible Quislings. 

Having met the Soviet conditions, the Finns appointed an armistice 
delegation — which, as it developed, would have to negotiate the terms 
of peace as well — headed by Minister President Antti Hackzell. Man- 
nerheim undertook to explain the Finnish action in a personal letter to 
Hitler in which he expressed gratitude for the German help and loyal 
brotherhood-in-arms and stated that, while Germany could never be 
completely destroyed, the Finns could, both as a people and a nation; 
therefore, Finland had to make peace in order to preserve its existence. 
Next, he turned to Stalin, proposing a cease fire to prevent further 

51 ( GEB. ) AOK 20, Der Oberbefehlshaber, la, Nr. 356/44, an OKW, WFSt, 
4.9.44, in K.T.B., Chefsachenanlagen, 1.7.-18.12.44. AOK 20 65635/12. 
62 Bluecher, op. cit., p. 369. 

53 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31. 12.44, p. 43. I.M.T.,Doc. 1795-PS. 

64 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 1010/44, Notiz fuer Besprechung O.B. mit Chef OKW, 
14.8.44, in K.T.B., Chefsachenanlagen, 1.7.-18.12. AOK 20 65635/12. 

65 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4 — 
31. 12.44,p. 54. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 


bloodshed while the negotiations were in progress. Both sides accepted 
0700 on 4 September as the time; but, although the Finns stopped their 
operations on time, the Russians, either through a mistake or to under- 
score their victory, let theirs run another 24 hours. 56 

The delegation reached Moscow on 7 September, but the Soviet Gov- 
ernment delayed a week before presenting its terms. Restoration of 
the 1940 border was a foregone conclusion. In addition, the Russians 
demanded the entire Pechenga region and, in place of Hanko, a fifty- 
year lease on Porkkala, which would give them a base astride the main 
rail and road routes to southwestern Finland within artillery range of 
Helsinki. The reparations were set at $300,000,000 to be paid in goods 
over a five-year period. The Finnish Army was to withdraw to the 
1940 border within five days and be reduced to peacetime strength 
within two and one-half months. The Soviet Union was to be granted 
the right to use Finnish ports, airfields, and merchant shipping for the 
duration of the war against Germany; and a Soviet commission would 
supervise execution of the armistice, which was to become effective on 
the day it was signed . 57 

On 18 September the Finnish Cabinet took the terms under considera- 
tion but could not reach an agreement. The Russians, meanwhile, de- 
manded that the signing be completed by noon of the following day. 
Early on the morning of the 19th, after the Army informed the Cabinet 
that under the most favorable circumstances Finland could not continue 
the war for more than another three months, the Parliament gave its 
approval. In Moscow the Finnish delegation signed the armistice 
shortly before noon, before it had received the official authorization. 58 

Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 525, 529, 530. 
Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 531, 543ff. 
Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 532ff. 


Chapter 14 
The Undefeated Army 


Finland's appeal for an armistice left the Germans in a state of pain- 
ful indecision, mostly because all of the possible courses of action ap- 
peared to be little more than invitations to disaster. Although the 
Twentieth Mountain Army remained committed to execution of Oper- 
ation Birke, for the sake of the nickel mines, it had no assurance that it 
would succeed in establishing a line in the north which could be held, not 
to mention the near certainty that sooner or later the army's sea supply 
line would be cut and its downfall would then become inevitable. On 
the other hand, a continuous withdrawal through the arctic regions of 
Finland into Norway, with winter only weeks away, presented even 
greater risks. The Tanne operations, too, presented more disadvan- 
tages than advantages. Tanne West had been in doubt almost since 
its inception because of Sweden's interest in the Aland Islands and the 
necessity for avoiding any provocation which might result in loss of 
the Swedish sources of iron ore and ballbearings. On 3 September 
Hitler decided to abandon Tanne West since it had also developed 
that the division from Denmark could not be spared. 1 On the same 
day the Navy, which was responsible for Tanne Ost, reported that the 
operation could- not be executed because only untrained troops were 
available. 2 

On 6 September Birke began. The intention to hold northern Fin- 
land was not revealed to the Finns, and the operation was to be con- 
ducted at a deliberate pace which would give enough time for move- 
ment of the army's supplies and at all times keep the XVIII Mountain 
Corps and the XXXVI Mountain Corps in a position to deal effectively 
with a Russian or Finnish pursuit. The first step, on 6 September, was 
to begin pulling the XVIII Mountain Corps troops east of Kesten'ga 
back to the Sof'yanga Position — a move which had been in preparation 

1 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, pp. 46, 52. 
I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

2 Naval War Diary, Vol. 61, p. 58. 


for several months and would have been carried out even if Finland 
had stayed in the war. 3 

The army's chief concern was for its open right flank and the army 
boundary on the right flank of the XVIII Mountain Corps. After 
learning that the Finns were moving two divisions north, avowedly for 
the purpose of preventing the development of a vacuum between the 
Finnish Army and the Twentieth Mountain Army which the Rus- 
sians might exploit, Rendulic on 3 September detached sufficient motor- 
ized units from the XXXVI Mountain Corps and the XVIII Mountain 
Corps to create two reinforced regiments. These, designated Kampf- 
gruppe West and Kampfgruppe Ost, were stationed in the vicinity of 
Oulu and Hyrynsalmi to prevent the Finns from moving in behind 
the army. The concern for the army boundary was allayed, for the 
time being at least, when the Finnish 14th Division, on the Finnish left 
flank, promised to maintain contact until the XVIII Mountain Corps 
had accomplished its withdrawal behind the Finnish border. 

What would happen after that was a question on which Finnish and 
German opinion differed sharply. The Finns maintained that the 
Russians would not advance beyond the 1940 border. They contended 
that, once the Twentieth Mountain Army had successfully disengaged, 
the withdrawal would become purely a technical matter of moving troops 
and supplies. Rendulic, on the other hand, believed the Finns either 
had lost touch with reality or were being deliberately dishonest. That 
the Russians would respect the border, he thought, was extremely un- 
likely. Much more likely was that they intended to occupy all of Fin- 
land north of the line Tornio-Suomussalmi, essentially the Twentieth 
Mountain Army zone. In the light of that assumption, which, it must 
be said, was the only safe one, the German withdrawal had to be con- 
ducted according to tactical principles and as if it were being undertaken 
on enemy rather than friendly or neutral territory. 4 

The first trouble for the Twentieth Mountain Army came in the 
XXXVI Mountain Corps zone. The westward extension of their right 
flank which the Russians had been working on since early in the year 
gave ample evidence that they intended to trap and destroy the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps. 5 Although aware of that, the corps had to time its 
movements not only according to its own situation but also in a manner 
that would allow the XVIII Mountain Corps to pass through Rovaniemi 
behind it. 

3 The XVIII Mountain Corps, under General der Infanterie Friedrich Hochbaum, 
had the 6th SS-Mountain Division "Nord" and the Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler (the 
139th Regiment, formerly of the 3d Mountain Division, two ski battalions, and an 
artillery regiment) in the Kesten'ga sector and the 7th Mountain Division in the 
Ukhta sector. 

* (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 6 Sep 44 et passim. AOK 
20 65635/2. 

5 The XXXVI Mountain Corps, with the 163d and 169th Divisions, was com- 
manded by General der Gebirgstruppe Emil Vogel. 


The danger point in the XXXVI Mountain Corps zone developed in 
the vicinity of Korya northeast of Salla at the terminus of the road 
running down to Salla which the Germans had used in their own attack 
on Salla in the summer of 1941. The appearance of Russian troops 
there on 7 September came as a complete surprise. Surprise changed 
to dismay when the Germans learned that the Russians had also brought 
up tanks over terrain that until then had been considered virtually im- 
passable for infantry. In the following days, after assembling a reindeer 
brigade and elements of a tank brigade with T 34 tanks, the Russians 
gained a foothold on the road and threatened to advance on Salla where 
they could have cut off the retreat of the entire corps. Events of the 
succeeding weeks indicated that bringing the tanks into position had 
required a tremendous effort which could not be maintained long 
enough to make full tactical use of them. Their appearance neverthe- 
less had a serious psychological impact on the German troops and led the 
army and corps commands to consider that the enemy might be plan- 
ning more radical measures than had been expected. 6 

With its rear endangered, the XXXVI Mountain Corps began to evac- 
uate the Verman Line on the night of 9 September. The Russians had 
already sent a force due south from the Korya area and on 1 1 Septem- 
ber reached and cut the main road from Salla east of the Kayrala Lake 
narrows. Fortunately, the corps had built an alternate road which 
swung south from Allakurtti through Vuoriyarvi and thence via Mikkola 
back to the main road west of Kayrala. Traffic proceeded over that 
route almost without interruption until the main road was reopened on 
13 September. On the 14th the last elements of the XXXVI Mountain 
Corps passed through Allakurtti, and, although the Russians had aug- 
mented their northern envelopment with a secondary thrust against the 
southern flank in the direction of Vuoriyarvi, the withdrawal proceeded 
in good order. 

In the light of the apparent seriousness of the Russian effort the 
XXXVI Mountain Corps revised its plan of withdrawal. Instead of 
routing all its troops along the main road via Salla and Kemiyarvi to 
Rovaniemi, it intended to shift two-thirds of the 169th Division north- 
westward to Savukoski to block a possible Russian attempt to strike 
at the Arctic Ocean Highway between Rovaniemi and Ivalo. In the 
meantime, the corps still had to hold for about ten days at Kayrala 
and in the vicinity of Korya in order to keep control of Salla until 
the XVIII Mountain Corps withdrawal had made sufficient progress 
farther south. On 24 September, after evacuating the bridgehead east 
of Kayrala, the XXXVI Mountain Corps set in motion a quick with- 
drawal through Salla to Markayarvi and Savukoski. The Russian 
pursuit stopped at Salla. 7 

6 Ibid., 7 and 8 Sep 44. Erfurth, op. cit., p. 246. Hoelter, op. cit., pp. 34ff. 
1 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 24 Sep 
44. AOK 20 65635/2. Hoelter, op. cit., p. 36. 


While the XXXVI Mountain Corps fought its way back into Fin- 
land, the evacuation in the south proceeded with hardly a hitch. On 
10 September the 6th SS-Mountain Division and Divisionsgruppe 
Kraeutler were firmly established in the Sof'yanga Position, and the 
7th Mountain Division began its withdrawal from Ukhta. At the 
middle of the month the XVIII Mountain Corps divisions moved into 
their switch positions west of the 1940 Finnish border. Four Russian 
divisions followed up to the border and stopped. 8 

Until the middle of the month the XVIII Mountain Corps carefully 
maintained contact with the Finnish left flank, for its own protection 
and in the hope that Finland might yet reject the Soviet terms and 
resume the war on Germany's side. On 17 September Rendulic re- 
garded the relationships between Finland and the Soviet Union on the 
one hand and Germany and Finland on the other as so undecided that 
he ordered all retrograde movements stopped. The next day, after 
Finland had signed the armistice, he revoked the order and gave the 
XVIII Mountain Corps permission to break contact with the Finns. 9 

The evacuation of excess personnel and supplies through the Finnish 
Baltic ports began in the first week of September. On the 6th the 
303d Self-propelled Assault Gun Brigade went aboard ship in Helsinki, 
and by the 13th all Germans including the legation and liaison staffs 
were out of southern Finland. At Oulu and Kemi on the Gulf of 
Bothnia the Twentieth Mountain Army, in part using ships loaned by 
the Finns, loaded 4,049 troops, 3,336 wounded, and 42,144 tons of 
supplies, leaving about 106,000 tons of supplies which later had to be 
destroyed. Oulu was evacuated on 15 September, and the last ships 
departed from Kemi on the 2 1st. 10 

As 15 September, the last day of the period of grace allowed for a 
voluntary German evacuation, drew near, relations between the Twen- 
tieth Mountain Army and the Finns remained friendly. Rendulic 
ordered his troops to behave "loyally" toward the Finns, and the Finnish 
liaison officer at army headquarters disclosed that Finland was willing 
to "make compromises" although it wanted to create the impression 
"outside" that it had broken with Germany completely. 11 On 13 Sep- 
tember the Finns informed the Twentieth Mountain Army that they 
would order all railroad rolling stock between Rovaniemi and Salla 
moved west of Rovaniemi on the 14th but would do nothing if the 
Germans took over the equipment. Between Rovaniemi and Oulu, 
they intended to keep the railroad in operation until the end of the 

8 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 4.4- 
31.12.44, p. 57. I.M.T. Doc. 1 795-PS. 

(Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 17 and 18 Sep 44. AOK 
20 65635/2. 

10 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31.12.44, pp. 55, 57, 71. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

11 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 14 Sep 44. AOK 20 


month for the evacuation of Finnish civilians and would haul 60 cars of 
German supplies a day. The Twentieth Mountain Army, in return, 
agreed to turn Oulu over to the Finnish troops on the 15th. 12 

The first break in this spirit of mutual accommodation came from the 
German side. In the second week of September the OKM suddenly 
changed its estimate of the prospects for Tanne Ost after the naval 
liaison officer on Suursaari reported that the Finnish commandant of 
the island had said he would never fire on German troops. Doenitz ex- 
pressed the opinion that so important a place as Suursaari could not be 
allowed to fall to the Russians without a fight and asked for reconsidera- 
tion of Tanne Ost. The Naval Staff thereupon proposed to execute 
the operation no later than 15 September, since it appeared from the 
liaison officer's reports that the Finns would not offer resistance and 
might evacuate the island as early as the 1 2th. On 1 1 September, after 
the naval liaison officer reported that the Finnish commandant had 
declared he would not fight the Germans even if ordered to do so, Hitler 
ordered preparations for the operation speeded up. Two days later 
the time was set at 0200 on the 15th. 

With a mixed force of naval and army personnel of approximately 
regimental strength taken aboard at Reval, a Navy task force executed 
the landing on schedule on the morning of the 15th. After the first 
wave of 1,400 men was ashore, the Finns opened fire, and shortly after 
daylight the Russians intervened with heavy air strikes. The second 
wave, which consisted mostly of naval personnel not trained for assault 
operations, could not be landed. After as many troops as possible had 
been taken off the island, the operation had to be canceled. 13 The Finns 
claimed to have taken 700 prisoners. 14 

Tanne Ost was so complete a fiasco that the Naval Staff, contrary 
to its usual custom, never investigated — or at least did not record — the 
causes of its error. For a time it appeared that the indirect consequences 
of the operation might prove even more serious than the tactical debacle 
itself. The Finnish Government immediately ordered all Finnish ships 
in the Baltic Sea to put into Swedish or Finnish ports, with the result 
that 13,000 tons of Twentieth Mountain Army supplies being returned 
to Germany were lost. 18 Mannerheim also retaliated on 15 September 
with a demand that Rendulic immediately give up all the territory south 
of the general line Oulu-Suomussalmi and the entire Baltic shore from 
Oulu to the Swedish border. 16 

12 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 1194/44, Fortsetzung der Besprechungen rnit dem 
Sonderbeauftragten des Oberkommandos der finn. Wehrmacht am 12.9. abends, 
13.9.44, in K.T.B. Anlagenband, 1.9.-15.9.44. AOK 20 65635/5. 

13 Naval War Diary, Vol. 61, pp. 156, 231, 255, 333, 393. 

14 Mannerheim, op. cit., p. 531. 

w OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31.12.44, p. 71. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

16 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Aktennotiz 15.9.44, in K.T.B. Anlagenband 1.9.-15.9.44. 
AOK 20 65635/5. 



6 September 1944-30 January 1945 





Map 22 

Although the Finnish Government raised a cry of treachery, the 
Finns probably regarded the Suursaari incident as something of a stroke 
of good fortune since it supplied overt evidence to refute Russian 
charges of collusion between Finland and Germany. That Finland did 
not regard it as a cause for open hostilities was demonstrated during 
the next few days. Rendulic, convinced — by the Finnish liaison officer's 
failure to deny a direct accusation — that a Russian desire to open a 
route to the Swedish border in preparation for a possible advance 
across northern Sweden to Narvik lay behind the Finnish pressure for 
evacuation of the Baltic shore, rejected Mannerheim's demand but 
declared his willingness to negotiate for a gradual withdrawal. 17 

Within two days the Twentieth Mountain Army and the Finnish 
Army Headquarters formulated an agreement whereby the Finnish 
troops would execute what the Finnish operations chief described as 
"fall maneuvers" designed to avoid clashes between the Germans and 
Finns while at the same time enabling Finland to report progress "of 
the advance" to the Russians. The Finns agreed to permit German 
destruction of all roads, railroads, and bridges, particularly since those 
measures would help justify the slow Finnish advance to the Russians. 
They also promised not to rebuild the railroad bridges and to build 
the road bridges strong enough to carry only supplies, not tanks. The 
Twentieth Mountain Army agreed to provide Finnish Headquarters 
with two days' advance notice of its movements. The Finnish liaison 
officer also proposed that, in the event Finland were forced to declare 
war against Germany, he be interned and then allowed to continue to 
function. The question which remained unanswered was how long 
the Finns could keep their side of the bargain. Rendulic observed that, 
although they did not want to fight the Germans, the Finns were de- 
termined to have peace at any price and would accept all Soviet 
demands. 18 

Having struck a bargain with the Finns, the Twentieth Mountain 
Army proceeded with its redeployment. On the right flank Divisions- 
gruppe Kraeutler, screened on the east by the 7th Mountain Division, 
moved west across the waist of Finland to take over the coastal sector 
between Tornio and Oulu where it would give ground in the south 
gradually, drawing back to a bridgehead southeast of Kemi in the first 
week of October. Kampfgruppe Ost, holding around Oulu, would fall 
back to Pudasyarvi where it would converge with the 7th Mountain 
Division, which would hold Pudasyarvi until the first week of October 
and then fall back slowly to Rovaniemi. 19 

17 Ibid. 

18 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Besprechung des O.B. mit dem Sonderbeauftragten des 
ftnn. H.Q. Obstl. Haahti, 18.9.44 and (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 1290/44, an OKW, 
WFSt, 20.9.44, in K.T.B. Anlagenband, 16.9.-31.9.44. AOK 20 65635/6. 

19 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 409/44, Armeebefehl fuer die Fortsetzung der Bewe gun- 
gen ab 23.9.44, 22.9.44, in Chefsachenanlagen 1.7.-18.12.44. AOK 20 65635/12. 


South of the army boundary, Mannerheim, who had moved the Fin- 
nish 6th Division to Kajaani and the 15th Brigade to the Oulu area 
earlier in the month, stationed a border Jaeger brigade at Kajaani and 
the Finnish Armored Division, the 3d Division, and the 1 1th Division at 
Oulu, where General Siilasvuo established his headquarters as Com- 
manding General of the Finnish Lapland forces. 20 

For ten days the "fall maneuvers" proceeded exactly according to 
plan. On 26 September the Twentieth Mountain Army reported that 
the Finns were following from phase line to phase line according to the 
agreement and at the same time leaving so much no-man's land be- 
tween the two forces that exchanges of fire were hardly possible. The 
Finnish Armored Division was committed along the Oulu-Kemi road, 
the worst possible route for an armored force because of the many river 
crossings. The army also regarded it as favorable that most of the 
Finnish units were the ones which had earlier fought side by side with 
the Germans. 21 The German troops were destroying all bridges and 
ferries as they passed, sometimes while the Finns stood by and watched. 22 
The sole cause for concern was — how long before the Russians became 
suspicious? The answer was to come in two days. 

On the morning of 28 September, after having opened fire briefly, a 
Finnish battalion commander demanded that the 7th Mountain Divi- 
sion evacuate Pudasyarvi before nightfall. The Twentieth Moun- 
tain Army at first dismissed the incident as merely a display of excessive 
zeal on the part of the local commander. When the Finns refused to 
negotiate, Rendulic, later in the day, gave the 7th Mountain Division 
permission to return fire if necessary and, shortly before midnight, pre- 
sented Siilasvuo with an ultimatum demanding that the Finnish forces 
reaffirm their intention to observe the previous agreements or accept 
the consequences of open hostilities. During the following two days 
the Finns increased their pressure at Pudasyarvi, capturing a German 
platoon there on 30 September. At the same time there were incidents 
in Tornio and Kemi, touched off by Finnish troops who had been left 
in the Twentieth Mountain Army area to supervise the civilian evacu- 
ation and guard industrial installations. 23 The Russians, apparently, 
had dropped a hint that they were ready to give "assistance" if the 
Finns failed to execute the armistice terms with sufficient determination. 

20 Mannerheim, op. cit., pp. 528, 535. 

21 One fact overlooked in this assumption was that the 3d, 6th, and 11th Divisions 
were sent north probably not because they had had close contact with the Germans 
but rather for the far better reason that they were composed of men recruited from 
the Twentieth Mountain Army zone. Their commander, Siilasvuo, although he had 
commanded a corps under the Twentieth Mountain Army for nearly a year, had 
toward the end displayed anything but a pro-German bias. 

22 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Nr. 1349/44, an OKW, WFSt, 26.9.44, in K.T.B. Anlagen- 
band, 16.9.-31.9.44. AOK 20 65635/6. 

23 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 28-30 Sep 44. AOK 20 


At Suomussalmi and Kuusamo Russian troops had already crossed the 

By 1 October open fighting had broken out in Kemi and at Tornio, 
where the Finns took possession of the road and railroad bridges. Dur- 
ing the day the Finnish 3d Division, coming by sea from Oulu, began dis- 
embarking at Tornio. The OKW saw a parallel between the Tornio 
bridges and the Allied attack on the Rhine bridges in Holland and in- 
sisted that they be retaken. Rendulic, although not sharing the OKW 
opinion regarding the importance of the bridges, instituted measures 
to regain control of the situation in the Kemi-Tornio area. 

At the outset Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler had only one infantry bat- 
talion, two battalions of artillery, and miscellaneous supply troops with 
which to defend Tornio, Kemi, and about sixty miles of coastline. At 
the first sign of a crisis it was given the Kampfgruppe West, approxi- 
mately a regiment, which had been withdrawing through Pudasyarvi 
with the 7th Mountain Division. On 2 October Rendulic furnished 
two additional infantry battalions and ordered the Machine Gun Ski 
Brigade, which was already moving northward from Rovaniemi, into 
the Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler sector. 24 

The army had to attempt to check the Finns without delaying its 
own withdrawal. After the army quartermaster reported on 2 October 
that all the supplies had been evacuated from Rovaniemi, it was not 
necessary to protect the town longer than the few days needed by the 
remaining elements of the XXXVI Mountain Corps and the 6th SS- 
Mountain Division passing through. Rendulic, therefore.; ordered 
Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler to concentrate on pushing the Finns back into 
Tornio, but stated that retaking of the town itself was not necessary. 
The 7th Mountain Division was to hold near Pudasyarvi until the 6th 
SS-Mountain Division and the 163d Infantry Division had reached 
Rovaniemi and turned north. 25 

Late on the night of 2 October, after the term had been extended 
several hours at the Finnish liaison officer's request, the Finns rejected 
Rendulic's ultimatum of 28 September. In his reply Siilasvuo stated 
that no agreements contrary to the Soviet-Finnish armistice terms had 
ever been made and that any exchanges of information which might 
have been made with individuals were not binding on the Finnish troop 
leadership. 28 On the following day Rendulic declared that the army 
would henceforth operate against the Finns "without restraint." Aban- 
doning the policy, which had so far been carefully observed, of limiting 
property destruction to roads, railroads, and bridges, he ordered, "As 

24 The Machine Gun Ski Brigade had been the chief component of Kampfgruppe 
Ost. It had been formed earlier in the year, out of three motorized machine gun 
battalions plus some infantry, to provide a mobile reserve for the Twentieth Army. 

25 Ibid., 2 Oct 44. 

26 Generalleutnant Siilasvuo, Bfh. d. finnischen Gruppe Lappland an dem O.B. 
der 20. (Geb.) Armee, 2.10.44, in K.T.B. Anlagenband, 1.10.-15.10.44. AOK 20 


of now, all cover, installations, and objects of use to the enemy are to be 
destroyed." 27 The taking of hostages, which had started a few days 
earlier, began in earnest ; but the hostages were all released several days 
later on orders from the OKW, which also ordered that Finnish soldiers 
and civilians in the army zone were to be treated as internees rather 
than as prisoners of war. 28 This display of moderation was occasioned 
chiefly by concern for public opinion in Sweden, where hostility to 
Germany had increased alarmingly since the outbreak of hostilities with 
the Finns. 

At Tornio, on 3 October, the main force of the Divisionsgruppe 
Kraeutler made some progress against the Finnish beachhead, but it was 
clear that, with the Finnish Armored Division pushing rapidly along the 
coast toward Kemi, the operation would have to be completed or aban- 
doned within a few days. By the following day the Divisionsgruppe had 
been forced back to a bridgehead east of Kemi. On 5 October, with the 
pressure against Kemi strong and progress slow against Tornio, army 
headquarters decided that the attack on Tornio would have to be stopped 
on the evening of the 6th and the withdrawal from Tornio and Kemi 
begun on the 7th. Part of the Divisionsgruppe would fall back along 
the Swedish border toward Muonio, while the rest would fight a de- 
laying action along the Kemi-Rovaniemi road. On 6 October the 
Finns landed a second division, the 1 1th, at Tornio, and Rendulic con- 
firmed his order for the withdrawal. The next day, the Finns, resorting 
to their motti tactics, encircled a German force north of Tornio, and 
the withdrawal had to be postponed for twenty-four hours while the 
encirclement was being broken. 

Beginning on 8 October the Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler and the 7th 
Mountain Division withdrew northward through Lapland, giving up 
Rovaniemi on the 16th. 29 The main objective of the Finnish offensive, 
to disprove Russian accusations of bad faith, had been achieved at 
Tornio and Kemi, where foreign journalists were on hand to witness the 
fighting. Although the Finnish troops maintained a close pursuit, they 
did not seriously interfere in German operations again. 


Although the OKW and the Twentieth Mountain Army had clearly 
recognized the dangers of Operation Birke from the time Fuehrer Di- 
rective No. 50 was issued in the fall of 1943, the Finnish capitulation, 
coming late in the year, made it appear that the alternative, a with- 
drawal behind the Lyngen Position, the short line across northern Nor- 

27 [Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 3 Oct 44. AOK 20 65635/2. 

28 Auswaertiges Amt Nr. 882, an OKW, Herm Generaloberst ]odl, 6.10.44 and 
OKW, WFSt, Qu. 2 (Nord), Nr. 0012133/44, an O.B. (Geb.) AOK 20, 9.10.44. 

29 {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 3-10 Oct 44. AOK 20 


German ships at nickel ore docks, Kirkenes. 

way between the Lyngcn Fiord and the northern tip of Sweden, might 
well be impossible. On If! September the opinion in the OKW was 
that the army would have to be taken back to the Lyngen Position 
but that this move would probably not be possible before June 1945. 
A day later, however, Rcndulic was instructed also to take into account 
the "highly unfavorable possibility" that the operation would have to 
be executed in winter. 

With the dilemma thus completely unsolved, the Operations Staff, 
OKW, at the end of the month undertook a review of the entire strategic 
position in Scandinavia and Finland. The review was necessitated by 
the situation of the Twentieth Mountain Army and by a new element — 
the loss of the submarine bases on the French coast and the consequent 
vast increase in the importance of the Norwegian bases, particularly in 
view of the intention to resume large-scale submarine warfare with new 
types equipped with snorkels and hydrogen peroxide engines. The 
OKW believed that the British air and naval forces formerly commit- 
ted against the French bases would be transferred north, lured by the 
submarine bases, the vulnerable sea supply lines of the Twentieth 
Mountain Army, and the desire to prevent the Russians from gaining 
a foothold in northern Scandinavia, The Twentieth Mountain Army, 
the OKW concluded, would have to be pulled back before the expected 
British offensive developed or be left to take heavy losses. To hold 
northern Finland no longer appeared worthwhile in any case since Dr. 
Albert Speer, the war production chief, had recently stated that the 
stockpile of nickel in Germany was adequate. On the other hand, to 


take the Twentieth Mountain Army back into Norway would 
strengthen the defenses there, relieve the strain on coastal shipping, 
and provide forces for defense of the Narvik area against Sweden. On 
3 October, after these considerations had been presented in the form 
of a balance sheet, Hitler approved a pullback to the Lyngen Position. 
In the following two days the OKW issued the preliminary orders and 
assigned the code name Nordlight. 30 

Tactically, Nordlicht was an extension of Birke with the added 
problems of setting the XIX Mountain Corps in motion and evacuating 
the army's six- to eight-months' stockpile of supplies. As an expedition 
by an army of some 200,000 men with all their equipment and supplies 
across the arctic territory in winter it had no parallel in military history. 
The season was already far advanced. Reichsstrasse 50 between 
Lakselv and Kirkenes was normally considered impassable because of 
snow between 1 October and 1 June; and, even though the fall of 1944 
was unusually mild, the XIX Mountain Corps would need luck and 
would have to be west of Lakselv by 15 November at the latest. The 
XXXVI Mountain Corps was more fortunate, having an all-weather 
road from Ivalo to Lakselv. The XVIII Mountain Corps roads, about 
half completed between Skibotten and Muonio and unimproved between 
Muonio and Rovaniemi, had a low carrying capacity, which was in part 
compensated for by the corps' having the most direct route to Lyngen 

While the weather and roads posed technical problems which exceeded 
all previous experience, the tactical situation was certain to be danger- 
ous and could at any moment become catastrophic. The Finns, al- 
ready following close on the heels of the XXXVI and the XVIII Moun- 
tain Corps could, potentially, stage offensives with superior forces against 
both, and the Russians could be depended on not to let the XIX Moun- 
tain Corps get away without a fight. Their final objectives could not 
be predicted. Would they try to waylay the XXXVI Mountain Corps 
at Ivalo? Would they follow into Norway? Would they attempt to 
cut the entire army off by taking Narvik? The least that could be ex- 
pected was a close pursuit down to the Lyngen Position. From all ap- 
pearances British and American intervention was only slightly less 
certain than trouble with the Russians. Reichsstrasse 50, broken by 
numerous ferry crossings and running immediately along the coast for 
long stretches, was temptingly vulnerable to naval and air attacks. Not 
to be taken lightly either was the danger from Sweden, which, having 
abrogated its trade agreements with Germany, appeared to be veering 
toward open hostility. The Twentieth Mountain Army was already 
under standing orders to avoid any incidents which could be interpreted 
as provocation, a difficult task since the XVIII Mountain Corps' route 

30 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31.12.44, pp. 63-66. I.M.T., Doc 1 795-PS. 


Camouflaged supply trail in the Tundra. 

of march took it directly along the Swedish border for several hundred 

How the first phase of Nordlicht would be executed was determined 
by the Russians who, after a build-up which the Germans had watched 
apprehensively since mid-September, opened their offensive against the 
XIX Mountain Corps on 7 October. The XIX Mountain Corps, under 
General der Gebirgstruppc Ferdinand Jodl, stood in the line it had held 
since the late summer of 1941. On the left flank the 6th Mountain 
Division held the strongly fortified Litsa front, and on the right the 
2d Mountain Division manned the line of strongpoints. The Divisions- 
gruppe van der Hoop held the line across the neck of the Rybatchiy 
Peninsula and provided security for the Pechcnga area.* 1 The fortress 
battalions of the 210th Infantry Division were ranged along the coast 
between Pechenga Bay and Kirkenes. In September Rendulic had 
moved the Bicycle Reconnaissance Brigade "Norway/ 5 detached from 
the Army of Norway, into the corps zone and had intended also to 
send the Machine Gun Ski Brigade, which at the end of the month he 
had to divert to Tornio instead. Opposite the XIX Mountain Corps 
the Russian main force, under Headquarters, Fourteenth Army, had 
been expanded to form three corps with a total of some six divisions 
and eight brigades. It was supported on the Rybatchiy Peninsula by 
at least two naval brigades and an indeterminate number of other 
troops. ; " Facing this formidable build-up the XIX Mountain Corps 

The Diviiionsgruppc win der Hoop was the former Divisionsgruppe Rossi, Gen- 
eral Rossi died in the plane crash which killed Dictl 

*{Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegttagehuck, 1.9.-18.12.44, 20 Sep U. AOK 20 


could not resort to evasive action, as the XXXVI Mountain Corps had, 
but was forced to make a stand at the front for the sake of the tre- 
mendous stockpiles of supplies and equipment which were just beginning 
to be evacuated through Pechenga and Kirkenes. 

On the morning of 7 October the Russian IG Assault Corps, with an 
estimated four divisions massed on a narrow front, hit the 2d Mountain 
Division strongpoint line immediately south of Chapr Lake, which lay 
astride the 2d Mountain Division-6th Mountain Division boundary. 
The attack, with artillery, air, and tank support, quickly swept over 
several of the strongpoints and before noon had almost reached the 
Titovka River on the Finnish-Soviet border. The 2d Mountain Divi- 
sion was badly shaken, and the Bicycle Reconnaissance Brigade was 
ordered out of reserve to throw up defensive positions on both sides of 
Lan Road, the division's supply road which joined the Arctic Ocean 
Highway at Luostari. On the following day while the 2d Mountain 
Division fell back to the Lan positions, the Twentieth Mountain Army 
ordered that the enemy must be prevented from gaining a foothold on 
the Arctic Ocean Highway and gave permission to pull the 6th Moun- 
tain Division back from the Litsa to gain troops. 

On 9 October the Russians shifted their attack south and their 
CXXVI Light Corps gained ground toward the Arctic Ocean Highway 
around the right flank of the 2d Mountain Division. The attack along 
Lan Road continued heavy, and a dangerous situation developed as the 
left flank of the 2d Mountain Division was driven back, leaving a gap 
between it and the right flank of the 6th Mountain Division. The 
Twentieth Mountain Army issued orders dispatching a regiment of the 
163d Infantry Division, a machine gun battalion, and an SS battalion 
to the XIX Mountain Corps area. 

The 10th brought a series of crises. Beginning shortly before mid- 
night, Russian troops from the Rybatchiy Peninsula landed on the main- 
land west of the peninsula and in the course of the day turned the left 
flank of Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, forcing it away from the neck 
of the peninsula. At the 2d Mountain Division-6th Mountain Division 
border, IC Assault Corps sent two regiments due north through the 
gap to cut the Russian Road, the 6th Mountain Division's main route 
to Pechenga. Off the right flank of the 2d Mountain Division, troops 
of the CXXVI Light Corps made good their threat of the day before 
and established themselves on the Arctic Ocean Highway five miles 
west of Luostari. The Twentieth Mountain Army ordered the 6th 
Mountain Division to clear the Russian Road and fall back to the line 
Pechenga-Luostari and ordered immediate destruction of the Kolosyoki 
nickel works. The 163d Infantry Division, still on the Rovaniemi-Salla 
road, was routed toward the XIX Mountain Corps at top speed, and 
the army recalled the Machine Gun Ski Brigade from Divisionsgruppe 



During the next two days the 6th Mountain Division cleared the 
Russian Road and, together with the Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, 
fell back to a bridgehead east of Pechenga. The 2d Mountain Divi- 
sion held the road junction at Luostari. West of the Russians, who held 
about five miles of the Arctic Ocean Highway, Kampfgruppe Ruebel, 
a regiment and three battalions under the Commanding General, 163 d 
Division, Generalleutnant Karl Ruebel, threw up a screening line. 

On 13 October, while Kampfgruppe Ruebel and the 2d Mountain 
Division attempted unsuccessfully to drive the Russians off the highway, 
the GXXVI Light Corps sent a strong detachment north and cut the 
Taarnet Road, the direct road between Pechenga and Kirkenes. With 
that the 2d and 6th Mountain Divisions and the Divisionsgruppe van 
der Hoop were isolated. To save the situation it became necessary to 
give up Luostari and Pechenga, turn the divisions west to reopen the 
Taarnet Road, and then fall back behind the Norwegian border. 33 

In one week the Russians had brought about the collapse of a front 
on which the Germans had lavished three years of planning and labor. 
For the Germans the blow was intensified by the fact that the Russian 
offensive was conducted with complete disregard for the assumption the 
Twentieth Mountain Army had accepted as doctrine since 1941 : that 
the arctic terrain made rapid movement of large forces impossible and, 
in particular, ruled out tank operations. This made the army appear 
in large degree a victim of its own misconception; but a closer exam- 
ination does not sustain that conclusion. On the German side the 1941 
experience and three years of inactivity had undoubtedly produced 
some complacency and a decline of readiness for combat which the 
rapid collapse of the 2d Mountain Division clearly demonstrated. They 
had probably also overlooked the changes three years of occupation had 
produced in the landscape, particularly the appearance of a number of 
relatively good roads and numerous paths which invited an attempt to 
employ tanks and larger troop units. Nevertheless, their original assump- 
tion was only partially disproved, since the Russians, employing a 
vastly superior force of specially trained troops with skillful and daring 
leadership against an opponent whose chief desire was to avoid a 
decisive engagement, failed — just as the Mountain Corps Norway had 
in 1941 — to achieve their main objective, to trap and destroy the XIX 
Mountain Corps. 

On 15 October Rendulic, Jodl (XIX Mountain Corps), and Ruebel 
conferred at the Kampfgruppe Ruebel Headquarters. They decided 
that, when the Taarnet Road was reopened, the 2d Mountain Division, 
which had not yet recovered from the shock of the original attack, would 
be transferred south behind the Kampfgruppe Ruebel to rest and re- 

33 XIX (Geb.) A.K., Kurzbericht ueber die Kampfhandlungen im Petsamo-und 
Varangerraum vom 7.10.44, 5.11.44, in Gen. Jodl, Kampfbericht-Petsamo. AOK 
20 75034/1. {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 7-14 Oct 44. 
AOK 20 65635/2. 


group. The remaining units of the XIX Mountain Corps would screen 
Kirkenes until the supplies were evacuated ; and Headquarters XXXVI 
Mountain Corps would take over the Kampfgruppe Ruebel, which was 
being rapidly brought up to a strength of nearly two divisions. The 
fate of the army depended on Kampfgruppe Ruebel. It would have 
to hold northeast of Kolosyoki until the Kirkenes defenses were com- 
pleted in order to prevent the Russians from gaining a foothold on the 
road, which had been built to carry ore to Kirkenes, and would also 
have to prevent the Russians from striking southward along the Arctic 
Ocean Highway to Ivalo. 

Also present at the meeting was General der Gebirgstruppe Georg 
Ritter von Hengl, a former commanding general of the XIX Mountain 
Corps, who in his capacity as head of the National Socialist Leadership 
Staff, OKH, brought a message of encouragement from Hitler. Hengl 
maintained that Jodl (OKW) had said the emphasis of the XIX 
Mountain Corps operations should be on saving the troops and concern 
for the supplies was secondary. Since this report contradicted all pre- 
vious orders, a call was put through to Jodl at the OKW, who said that 
the Hengl communication was "distorted" but himself only provided the 
somewhat oracular explanation that, if it were a question of sacrificing 
troops for supplies, then it was expected that the army's first concern 
would be for the troops. In a second call two hours later, the army 
chief of staff pointed out that implementing the OKW orders for evacu- 
ation of all supplies would necessarily involve attrition of forces, particu- 
larly on the part of the Kampfgruppe Ruebel, and asked for replacement 
supplies from Germany. These, he was informed, were impossible to 
provide, since rations and ammunition were "rare commodities" in 
Germany, and the discussion therewith ended where it had begun. 34 

Meanwhile, activity at the front subsided slightly as the Russians re- 
grouped. On 18 October, anticipating resumption of the Russian of- 
fensive within 24 hours, the Twentieth Mountain Army gave the Kampf- 
gruppe Ruebel permission to fall back to Salmiyarvi within three days 
and, since that move would open the nickel road to Kirkenes, ordered 
the 6th Mountain Division to take over defense of the southern ap- 
proaches to Kirkenes at the same time. When these operations were 
completed the XIX Mountain Corps and the Kampfgruppe Ruebel 
would be separated and facing in opposite directions, and the XXXVI 
Mountain Corps would assume control of the Kampfgruppe Ruebel. 

The Russian attack began as expected on 19 October, with the main 
effort directed against Kampfgruppe Ruebel. Although the Kampf- 
gruppe drew back along the Arctic Ocean Highway and escaped the full 
force of the IC Assault Corps attack, its situation became precarious a 

34 (Geb.) AOK 20 Reisebericht des O.B., 15.10.44. in K.T.B. Anlagenband, 1.10.- 
15.10.44. AOK 20 65635/7. (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 
15 Oct 44. AOK 20 65635/2. 


day later as the CXXVII Light Corps thrust around the right flank and 
threatened to cut the highway behind the Kampfgruppe. To keep his 
line of retreat open, Ruebel was forced, during the next three days, to 
fall back to the Kaskama Lake narrows. After that the Russian pres- 
sure gradually slackened, and the Kampfgruppe was able to fall back 
rapidly to Ivalo. 

Simultaneously with the attack on the Kampfgruppe Ruebel, the 
CXXVI Light Corps advanced against the 6th Mountain Division 
screening Kirkenes. In the face of three-to-one superiority the division 
had no hope of stopping the advance. Worse still, the CXXVI Light 
Corps directed its main effort at Taarnet, where the hydroelectric plants 
supplying power to Kirkenes were located. On 22 October, with those 
installations already in the front lines, the Twentieth Mountain Army, 
informing the OKW that the ships in Kirkenes could no longer be sup- 
plied with water for their boilers, requested permission to stop the evac- 
uation and operate according to the tactical situation. After several 
hours' delay, permission was granted, and thereafter the corps elements 
east of Kirkenes fell back rapidly, the last units passing west onto 
Reichsstrasse 50 on the 24th. After minor rear guard actions on the 
27th and 28th, the Russian pursuit slowed down as the XIX Mountain 
Corps withdrew in the direction of Lakselv. Of the corps' supplies, 
one third (45,000 tons) were saved; the rest were destroyed or fell into 
the hands of the Russians. 35 

On 26 October the evacuation of the Varanger Peninsula began. 
The Russians followed as far as Tana Fiord. Ahead of the XIX 
Mountain Corps, between Lakselv and Skibotten, two divisions of the 
LXXI corps, transferred to the Twentieth Mountain Army in mid-Oc- 
tober, provided security for the vulnerable points on Reichsstrasse 50 
and began preparations for demolition of the road after the main force 
had passed. Hitler, intent on preventing either the Russians or the 
free Norwegian Government from gaining a foothold north of Lyngen 
Fiord, ordered a scorched earth policy. The civilian population was to 
be evacuated, mostly in small boats to avoid overloading Reichsstrasse 50. 

The evacuation began as a voluntary measure, but where the popu- 
lation refused to comply, the Germans used force. Usually the simple 
expedient of burning down the houses was sufficient. The total of 
those evacuated was estimated at 43,000. The population of Kirkenes 
(10,000) had to be left behind for tactical reasons, and 8,500 nomadic 
Laps were exempted. Otherwise, Rendulic reported in December, 
only 200 persons managed to escape; and these, with his usual thor- 
oughness in such matters, he promised to hunt down. 36 

35 (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 1.9.-18.12.44, 16-28 Oct 44. AOK 20 

30 (Geb.) AOK 20, 0. Qu/Qu. 1, Nr. 5001/44, Bericht ueber Evakuierung Nord- 
norwegens, 15.12.44. OKW 138/2. 


In the XXXVI Mountain Corps zone, after the middle of October, 
the 169th Division occupied the Schutzwallstellung, the positions pre- 
pared south of Ivalo for Operation Birke. To the east in the direction 
of Lutto and Ristikent the corps established a screening line. There, 
on 2 1 October, it experienced a brief alarm when radio intelligence re- 
ported identification of the Soviet Nineteenth Army Headquarters and 
three divisions in the Lutto Valley ; but ground reconnaissance soon re- 
vealed that the radio traffic was merely a deception. 37 After the units 
of the former Kampfgruppe Ruebel had passed through Ivalo toward 
Lakselv, the XXXVI Mountain Corps abandoned the Lutto positions 
on 30 October, and began its withdrawal from the Schutzwallstellung 
on the following day. On 2 November the 2d Mountain Division 
entered Reichsstrasse 50 at Lakselv to begin the final stage of the with- 
drawal by the main forces of the XIX and the XXXVI Mountain 
Corps. Next day the rear guard of the 169th Division evacuated 
Ivalo. 38 

The XVIII Mountain Corps, after holding Muonio until the large am- 
munition dump there had been evacuated, began (on 29 October) falling 
back to the Sturmbockstellung west of Karesuando. There, in the posi- 
tions constructed for Birke, the 7th Mountain Division took over the task 
of holding the narrow strip of Finnish territory projecting northwestward 
between Sweden and Norway as a temporary flank protection for the 
Lyngen Position and the troops moving west on Reichsstrasse 50. The 
139th Brigade was stationed off the left flank in Norwegian territory 
at Kautokeino. 

On 18 December, as the rear guard on Reichsstrasse 50 passed 
Billefiord, the 139th Brigade began pulling back from Kautokeino. In 
the Sturmbockstellung the 7th Mountain Division held its positions with 
negligible interference from the Finns until 12 January 1945. On that 
date it began a leisurely march back to the Lyngen Position, which by 
then had been completed and was held by troops of the 6th Mountain 

At the end of January Nordlicht was terminated, although the code 
name Nordlicht continued to be used until May 1945 for the passage 
through Norway of the Twentieth Mountain Army troops being returned 
to Germany. At the extreme northwestern tip of Finland a few square 
miles of Finnish territory which had been included in the Lyngen Posi- 
tion remained in German hands until the last week of April 1945. 
East of Lyngen Fiord the Norwegian Finnmark was empty except for 
small German detachments at Hammerfest and Alta which continued 
evacuating supplies until February 1945. In January the Norwegian 
Government sent in a token force of police from England and Sweden. 

37 (Geb.) AOK 20, la. Nr. 467/44 an Gen. Kdo. XXXVI (Geb.) A.K., 21.10/.44, 
in Chef sachenanlagen, 1.7.-18.12.44. AOK 20 65635/12. 

38 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4- 
31. 12.44, v- 75. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 


Subsequently, the Russians gradually withdrew, leaving only a detach- 
ment at Kirkenes. 39 

Although Operation Nordlicht constituted an outstanding display of 
skill and endurance on the part of the troops and leadership of the 
Twentieth Mountain Army, luck was also a significant element in its 
success. While the casualties (22,236) were nearly as many as those 
sustained during Silberfuchs in 1941, they fell far below the numbers 
that had become routine for other German armies. Of the dangers 
and threats which had been anticipated, none materialized. The 
weather was as favorable as could have been expected in the Arctic, and 
winter set in much later than usual that year. Most fortunate of all, 
Nordlicht was executed at exactly the time when the resources of both 
the Russians and the West were committed to their limits on the main 
fronts, with the result that the Russian effort, in the final analysis, was 
modest and the British and Americans did not put in an appearance 
at all. 

Norway and Surrender 

The year 1944 passed for the Army of Norway, as the previous two 
had, in waiting for an invasion that did not come. At mid-year its 
strength stood at 372,000 men, but before the end of summer it had 
lost about 80,000 through the transfer of three divisions and miscel- 
laneous smaller contingents to shore up the tottering fronts in Russia 
and France. In the fall, forced by the hostile attitude of Sweden to 
deploy units along the Swedish border opposite Oslo and Trondheim, 
the army briefly experienced a personnel shortage. 40 

Active warfare was confined to the air and sea, as the British raided 
the ports and coastal shipping and the German submarines doggedly 
harassed the arctic convoys. After the Scharnhorst sinking, Doenitz 
stationed 24 submarines in the Arctic, but sinkings declined sharply 
and submarine losses increased after the British began using American- 
built escort aircraft carriers to protect the convoys. After the loss of 
the French ports, Bergen and Trondheim became the main bases for 
submarine warfare in the Atlantic, but the fleet of revolutionary new- 
type submarines which they were to serve never appeared. 41 

During the year the Tirpitz continued to perform its functions of tying 
down heavy units of the British Navy and forcing it to provide extra 
strong cover for the convoys to Russia, but the giant battleship's days 
were numbered. As soon as its repairs were completed in the spring 
of 1944 an air attack on 2 March which scored 16 direct hits put the 

39 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz 1.4.- 
31.12.44, p. 76. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. (Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegstagebuch, 
1.9.-18.12.44, 24 Oct 44 et passim. AOK 20 65635/2. {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Kriegs- 
tagebuch, 19.12.44-5.18.45, 19 Dec 44 et passim. AOK 20 75038/2. 

40 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4 — 
31.12.44,pp.85,92. I.M.T., Doc. 1795-PS. 

a Morison, op. cit., Vol. X, pp. 305-14. 


The Tirpitz in a northern fiord. 

ship out of action, for another four months. After two more strikes, 
in July and August, failed, the British Air Force on 15 September 
launched two squadrons of Lancaster bombers carrying six-ton armor- 
piercing bombs from a field near Arkhangelsk. Over Alta Fiord they 
found the Tirpitz already hidden in smoke from generators ranged 
along the shore, but they managed to score one hit which badly man- 
gled the ship's bow. Since the repairs would require nine months, the 
Tirpitz was then transferred to Tromsd to act as a stationary floating 
battery off the left flank of the Lyngen Position. 4 - On 28 October the 
Lancasters tried again from a base in Scotland but came over the tar- 
get just as a cloud bank moved in and, forced to bomb through the 
clouds, secured no hits. Two weeks later, on 12 November, they 
struck once more. Coming in from the east, they achieved complete 
surprise. In three minutes, after receiving two direct hits and four 
near misses, the Tirpitz capsized, her superstructure grounding in the 
shallow water of the harbor and her bottom projecting above the sur- 
face. 43 The Naval Staff believed that the Lancasters had been able to 
come in undetected because they had made the flight over neutral 
Swedish territory. 

Operation Nokdlicht inevitably brought with it a reshuffling of 
command and troop dispositions in Norway. In October the OKW 
transferred control of the LXXI Corps and northern Norway including 
the Narvik area to the Twentieth Mountain Army. On 18 December, 
in accordance with orders which Hitler had issued earlier, Rendulic 

a OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitvng, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauptetz, 1.*.- 
31.12.44, pp. 89-91. I.M.T..DOC. 1795-PS. 

15 David Woodward, The Tirpitz and the Battle for the North Atlantic (New 
York; Berkley Publishing Corp., 1953), pp. 151-58. 


took over as Armed Forces Commander, Norway, and Falkenhorst re- 
turned to Germany. The Twentieth Mountain Army absorbed the 
Army of Norway, and in the Narvik-Lyngen Fiord area the Armeeab- 
teilung Narvik, composed of the XIX Mountain Corps and the LXXI 
Corps, was created under the command of Headquarters, XIX Mountain 
Corps. Headquarters, XXXVI Mountain Corps, assumed command 
of the troops on the Swedish border. , 

During the winter the main task of the Twentieth Mountain Army 
was to return as many units as could be spared to Germany. The 6th 
SS-Mountain Division began embarking at Oslo in mid-November and 
in the next five months the 2d Mountain, 163d, 169th, and 199th Divi- 
sions followed. Already slowed down by the necessity for moving the 
divisions by road from Lyngen Fiord to Mo, the transfers were reduced 
to a crawl in March when coal stocks ran low, and the Norwegian 
railroads had to run on wood. The last division scheduled to go, the 
7th Mountain Division, became bogged down south of Trondheim in 
late April. 

From January to May 1945, while the German armies on the main- 
land were being ground to pieces, the Twentieth Mountain Army was 
on a near-peacetime basis. Even the rumors, predictions and premoni- 
tions of an invasion subsided. General der Gebirgstruppe Franz 
Boehme, who replaced Rendulic as Armed Forces Commander, Nor- 
way, in January when the latter was transferred to the command of the 
Army Group North, complained that he found some units still observing 
Sunday as a holiday. Although he condemned the practice as a "re- 
grettable failure to appreciate our total situation," he had little to recom- 
mend other than that the day be used for National Socialist Leadership 
courses or athletic competitions. 44 An OKW observer had described 
Norway at the end of 1944 as one of the most peaceful spots in Europe, 
and so it remained to the end of the war despite a gradual increase in 
sabotage and resistance activity. 

In the dull days of late winter Reichskommissar Terboven, as he had 
done once or twice before, provided a certain amount of serio-comic 
relief. Falkenhorst, in June 1943, had persuaded the Reichskommissar 
to drop his demand for a private zone of operations by promising that if 
and when an invasion came he could remain in office and continue to 
exercise his authority outside the immediate combat zones. 45 After 
thinking the matter over during the intervening months, Terboven, in 
March 1945, came to the conclusion that an invasion would leave very 
little of Norway which could be excluded from the combat zone. This 
thought he communicated to Boehme, who agreed and suggested that, 
when the time came, he take over the post of chief of military govern- 

44 Der Oberbefehlshaber der 20. (Geb.) Armee und Wehrmachtbefehlshaber Nor- 
wegen, la, 1010/45, 7.2.45, in K.T.B. Anlagenband 1.2.-28.2.45. AOK 20 75036/3. 

45 OKW, WFSt, K.T.B. Ausarbeitung, Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz, 1.4.- 
31. 12.44, p. 83. I.M.T.,Doc. 1795-PS. 


ment under the Armed Forces Commander. Terboven countered with 
a suggestion that he be made Boehme's deputy in all except tactical 
matters. He wanted to begin immediately devoting his "energies" to 
inspiring the troops and giving them the benefit of his personal and 
moral support, functions which he also intended to perform after the 
fighting had begun. In the OKW, where at the moment there was 
no desire to establish closer ties between the Wehrmacht and the party, 
Terboven's proposal struck like a bomb. It raised visions of every 
Gauleiter in Germany attempting to foist himself on the Army as a 
species of political commissar. As usual, Terboven had Hitler's approval 
"in principle," and it took the combined efforts of Keitel and Jodl to 
stave off this last-minute attempt to revise the German military system. 46 

In the spring, while the war burned itself out on the mainland, the 
Twentieth Mountain Army stood by, helpless, but still a source of 
lingering concern to the Allied Supreme Command, which regarded 
Norway as a possible locale for a desperate last stand. 47 The army 
itself had no such plans and, after Doenitz became Head of State, was 
ordered, on 4 April, to avoid all incidents which might give provocation 
to the Western Powers. 48 

After the German surrender in Denmark on 5 May, Obergruppen- 
fuehrer Walter Schellenberg, who had earlier established contacts in 
Sweden as part of an attempt to cast his boss, Himmler, in the role of 
peacemaker, appeared in Stockholm where he persuaded the Swedish 
Government to offer to intern the Twentieth Mountain Army and all 
the German personnel in Norway with the exception of Terboven and 
Quisling. Although Schellenberg had plenipotentiary powers from 
Doenitz, Boehme, who had told Doenitz in an interview on 5 May that 
the Twentieth Mountain Army and the other Wehrmacht elements in 
Norway were ready for any task "within the limits of their strength'* 
and had come off with the impression that Doenitz regarded the force in 
Norway as a valuable lever for bargaining with the Allies, refused to 
meet the intermediaries on the ground that his mission, the defense of 
Norway, had not changed. 49 On 8 May, the day after the uncondi- 
tional surrender was announced, the OKW informed Boehme that in- 
dependent negotiations with Sweden would be regarded as a breach of 
the capitulation terms and would "have the most severe consequences for 
the entire German people." 50 On the same day representatives of Gen- 

46 W.B.N. , la, Nr. 1910/45, Emennung des Reichskommissars zum Vertreter des 
Wehrmachtbefehlshabers, 19.3.45 and W.B.N. , la, 1771/45, an Chef WFSt, 14.3.45- 

47 John Ehrman, Grand Strategy (London, 1956), Vol. VI, pp. 147ff. 

48 OKW, WFSt, an W.B. Norwegen, W.B. Daenemark, 4.5.45, in WFSt, Befehle 
an die Truppe {Kapitulation) . OKW/6. 

49 {Geb.) AOK 20 la, Nr. 48/45, an OKW, Gen. Feldm. Keitel, 6.5.45, in Chefs- 
achen-K.T.B., 1.1.-7.5.54. AOK 20 75038/5a. {Geb.) AOK 20 (OKW BNorw.), 
la, Nr. 2860/45, in {Geb.) AOK 20, la, Verschiedenes, Jan-Juni 1945. AOK 20 

50 OKW, WFSt, Nr. 0010063/45, an Oberbefehlshaber (Geb.) AOK 20, 8.5.45, 
in K.T.B. Anlagenband, 1.4.-30.4.45. AOK 20 75036/5. 


eral Sir Andrew Thome's Scottish Command arrived in Oslo to deliver 
orders for the surrender. 

Terboven committed suicide in his bunker on the day of the capitula- 
tion. Quisling refused a last-minute chance to escape to Spain, choos- 
ing, instead, to "defend his convictions" before a Norwegian court. He 
was executed in the Akershus Fortress at Oslo on 23 October 1945. 

In announcing the surrender Boehme described his army as one which 
"no enemy had dared to attack" and which bowed to the dictates of its 
enemies only to serve the total national interest. 51 The full meaning 
of unconditional surrender was not appreciated until after the Allied 
instructions had arrived. Protesting to the OKW on 10 May, Boehme 
denounced the capitulation terms as "unbearably severe." The Ger- 
man troops were being reduced to an "immobile, defenseless mass of 
humanity," while the Russian prisoners of war were being treated with 
"incomprehensible esteem." The demand that the army arrest the 
SS and party officials was "dishonorable." He concluded with, "Woe 
to the vanquished." 52 

51 Boehme, General der Gebirgstruppe und W ehrmachtsbefehlshaber Norwegen, 
"Soldaten in Norwegen," in K.T.B. Anlagenband 1.4.-30.4.45. AOK 20 75036/5. 

52 (Geb.) AOK 20 (OKWBN) , la, an OKW, WFSt, 19.5.45, in WFSt, Bef-ehle an 
die Truppe (Kapitulation) . OKW/6. 


Chapter 15 

In warfare there are occasional blind alleys, and for Germany in 
World War II the Northern Theater was one of those. Of the two 
major strategic objectives which the theater presented, expansion of 
the base for naval operations and interdiction of traffic through the 
port of Murmansk, one could not be exploited and the other was never 
attained. The remaining advantages which accrued to Germany were 
not great enough to divert enemy attention from more promising targets 
elsewhere; consequently, the theater remained quiescent during most of 
its existence and eventually collapsed as a result of German defeats 
on the mainland. 

Norway, which a reinforced corps had conquered, took an army plus 
vast expenditures of materiel to defend. After 1941 a second army 
was tied down in Finland. Both of those armies were effectively side- 
tracked as far as any influence on the outcome of the war was con- 
cerned. Whether this diversion of force was either necessary or justifia- 
ble was debated from the very inception of the plan for Weseruebung. 
Since the war German opinion on the question has been divided, but 
the arguments on both sides invariably center on specific strategic con- 
siderations. When a balance is cast they lead only to the conclusion that 
the Northern Theater was both essential to Germany's conduct of the 
war and a stone around its neck. In attempting to determine the rela- 
tive importance of either, one immediately becomes involved in an 
endless chain of futile second-guessing. The answer, of course, is that 
the causes of Germany's failure in World War II are not to be found 
in the specifics of strategy or tactics — not even Hitler's — but in the fal- 
lacy of attempting to satisfy boundless ambitions with limited means. 

In occupying Norway and northern Finland Germany acquired 
economic assets of first-rate importance to its war effort, the Swedish 
iron and Finnish nickel. It also gained bases which were useful 
for submarine warfare in general and which were essential to the opera- 
tions against the Allied convoys to Russia. A further advantage that 
Hitler, at least, ranked above all the others was the protection of Ger- 
many's northern flank. All of these were valuable, and yet none of 
them had a discernible influence on the outcome of the war. 


The most frequent criticism directed against Hitler's conduct of oper- 
ations in the Northern Theater, and in Norway particularly, is that he 
poured in troops and material there on a scale which far surpassed the 
need and drained strength from more active theaters. His exaggerated 
concern for an invasion of that area was one of his major errors as a 
strategist, besides being a first-class example of the malfunctioning of 
his intuition. On the other hand, if Norway was to be defended, the 
commitment of forces there had to be large, although not as large, per- 
haps, as it was. By nature the German position in Norway was weak : 
a long coastline had to be defended against an enemy who had naval 
superiority ; and poor internal lines of communication ruled out a mobile 
defense. A static defense was the most reliable solution and that cost 
men and materiel. 

The crucial error of German strategy in the Northern Theater was the 
failure to cut the northern sea route to the Soviet Union. In 1941 its 
importance was not fully recognized, and the mistake could not be 
rectified later. Furthermore as General Buschenhagen has pointed out, 
the failure to stage an adequate offensive against the Murmansk Rail- 
road, serious as it was, was fundamentally less significant than the error 
in strategy that left Arkhangelsk, which could be kept open throughout 
most of the year, completely out of consideration. An operation to cut 
the railroad at Belomorsk, followed by an advance to Arkhangel'sk, 
would have completely closed the northern route and dealt the Soviet 
Union a severe blow. It would probably also have made possible a 
stabilization of the situation in northern Europe which, in the light of 
their predominantly defensive interest there, would have been entirely 
to the Germans' advantage. 

Another error which had a most baneful effect on operations in the 
northern theater was the failure to take Leningrad. It appears that 
the city could have been taken in September 1941 had it not been for 
Hitler's wild and pointless determination to wipe it out entirely. The 
capture of Leningrad would probably have made a German-Finnish 
drive toward Belomorsk and Arkhangel'sk possible. It would certainly 
have greatly strengthened the position of the Finnish Army and paved 
the way for further combined operations. Above all, once the issue 
had been decided at Leningrad, the Russians might have turned their 
attention to other sectors of the front, enabling the Army Group North 
and the Finnish Army to establish relatively stable positions in their 

The poorly denned and inherently unstable partnership with Finland 
contributed greatly to the atmosphere of frustration which prevailed 
throughout the history of the Northern Theater. The Finns could have 
performed two services of major strategic significance, assistance in the 
capture of Leningrad and participation in an operation against the 


Murmansk Railroad; both of these they refused. Long before the as- 
sociation was dissolved it had become a liability to both partners. 

For Finland, which sacrificed heavily in men (55,000 killed, nearly 
145,000 wounded) territory, and economic resources, the war was a 
costly experience. Finland was in part, as it claimed, a small nation 
caught in a war between two great powers and in part a victim of its own 
ambitions. That some of its territory would have become involved in 
the war was inevitable, and that it could have remained neutral was 
unlikely. In the end it emerged from the war still an independent 
nation, a better fate than befell many of the Soviet Union's small neigh- 
bors, some of which were not its enemies. This relatively favorable 
outcome can be credited in part to the fund of good will which Finland 
had built up in the United States and Great Britain and their con- 
tinuing recognition of a certain amount of justice in the Finnish cause. 

One significant historical precedent was established in the German 
Northern Theater : there, for the first time, major troop units conducted 
extended operations under arctic conditions. Although in the final 
battles of the war the Russians maneuvered large units with tanks more 
quickly and over greater distances than had previously been thought 
possible, the following conclusions regarding arctic warfare drawn from 
the German experience still apparently retain their Validity: 

1 . In the Arctic the human element is all-important. The effective- 
ness of motorized and mechanized equipment is greatly reduced; the 
chief reliance must always be on men, not machines. Specialized train- 
ing and experience are essential. The climate allows no margin of 
error either for the individual or for the organization as a whole. 

2. The mobility of all units, large or small, is low. Maneuvers must 
be precisely planned and executed with the knowledge that distance can 
be as difficult to overcome as the enemy. Momentum is difficult to 
achieve and quickly lost. 

3. Control of space is unimportant. Roads are difficult to build, and 
operations inevitably center around those few which already exist or 
can be constructed. One good line of communications such as the Mur- 
mansk Railroad can be decisive. 

4. There is no favorable season for operations. Climate and terrain 
are always enemies, particularly to offensive operations. The winter is 
relatively favorable in one respect, namely, that the snow and ice make 
rapid movement by specially trained and equipped troops possible. 
Throughout much of the winter, however, operations must be conducted 
in near-total darkness. The most satisfactory period is in the late winter 
when the days are lengthening; but then time is limited, and operations 
must either be completed or abandoned at the onset of the spring thaw. 


Appendix A 

Rank Designations of German and Finnish General and Flag Officers 
Army and Air Force 

United States equivalent 

German Finnish 

Reichsmarschali* Suomen Marsalkka** . 

Generalfeldmarschall Sotamarsalkka*** General of the Army and 

General of the Air Force. 

Generaloberst Kenraalieversti**** .... General. 

General der Infanterie, der Jalkavaenkenraali [etc.] . Lieutenant General. 
Artillerie, der Flieger, 

Generalleutnant Kenraaliluutnantti Major Genera]. 

Generalmajor Kenraalimajuri 

Brigadier General. 


Grossadmiral Fleet Admiral. 

Generaladmiral Admiral. 

Admiral Vice Admiral. 

Vizeadmiral Rear Admiral. 

Konter admiral Commodore. 

^Created for Goering in July 1940 and held only by him. 
**Created for Mannerheim in June 1942 and held only by him. 
***Held only by Mannerheim. 
****No Finnish officer held an equivalent rank in World War II. 


Appendix B 

Chronology of Events 



1 World War II begins as German troops invade Poland. 

2 Germany warns Norway to observe strict neutrality. 

10 Raeder points out to Hitler the advantages of German naval and 

air bases in Norway. 

30 Soviet forces invade Finland. 

13 Hitler orders the question of occupying Norway investigated. 


6 Great Britain requests permission to send naval forces into Nor- 
wegian territorial waters. 
1 Studie Nord is issued. 

29 Field Marshall Mannerheim appeals for aid, and the Allies decided 

to send an expeditionary force in mid-March. 

5 The Krancke Staff assembles in the OKW. 

16 The Altmark is boarded by British naval personnel in Norwegian 

territorial waters. 

21 Falkenhorst is appointed to direct planning for Weseruebung. 

1 The Fuehrer directive for Weseruebung is issued. 
1 2 The Soviet-Finish Winter War ends. 

1 Hitler gives final approval on plans for Weseruebung. 

3 First ships of the Tanker and Export Echelons depart. 

5 Great Britain agrees to execution of Operation Wilfred. 

6 (Midnight) Warship Groups 1 and 2 depart. 

8 The British Navy lays mines in Norwegian territorial waters ( Op- 

eration Wilfred) . 

9 German troops land in Norway and occupy Denmark. 

14 Allied landings begin in the Narvik area and at Namsos. 

1 7 Allied landings begin at Andalsnes. 



2 Evacuation of Andalsnes is completed. 

3 Evacuation of Namsos is completed. 

28 The Allies capture Narvik. 


8 The Allies evacuate Narvik. 

9 The Norwegian Army surrenders. 


29 German planning for an invasion of the Soviet Union begins. 

13 Hitler orders reinforcement of northern Norway and preparation 
for Operation Renntier (occupation of the Finnish nickel dis- 
trict in the event of a Soviet-Finnish conflict) . 

18 The German Air Force secures transit rights across Finnish 


22 The German-Finnish transit agreement is signed. 

12 & 13 Molotov visits Berlin, and Hitler warns against renewed 
Soviet attack on Finland. 


18 Hitler signs and issues Fuehrer Directive No. 21 for Operation 
Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. 


27 The Army of Norway completes its staff study Silberfuchs for a 
combined German-Finnish operation against the Soviet Union. 


4 A British naval force raids Svolvaer, and Hitler (subsequently) 
orders the defenses of Norway strengthened. 


17 The Army of Norway submits its plan of operations for Silber- 
fuchs to OKW. 


25-28 German-Finnish miltary conferences at Salzburg and Berlin. 

3 German-Finnish military conferences are resumed in Helsinki. 
14 The President of Finland and the Foreign Affairs Committee of 

Parliament approve the results of the military conferences. 
17 Finnish mobilization begins. 
2 2 Germany declares war on the Soviet Union. 
25 Finland declares war on the Soviet Union. 


28 The Finnish Army completes and submits its plan of operations to 


29 The Mountain Corps Norway begins Operation Platinfuchs, the 

advance toward Murmansk. 

J ul y 

1 The XXXVI Corps and the Finnish III Corps begin Operation 

Polarfuchs, the advance toward Kandalaksha and Loukhi. 
1 The Finnish Army opens its offensive in East Karelia. 
28 Finland breaks diplomatic relations with Great Britain. 

10 The Army Group North begins its final drive to Leningrad. 

30 Elements of the Army Group North reach the Neva River, cutting 

the land routes out of Leningrad. 



2 Finland completes the reconquest of its former territory on the Isth- 

mus of Karelia. 

4 The Army of Karelia begins its advance to the Svir River. 

8 The Army Group North captures Schluesselburg. 
21 The Army of Norway cancels the Mountain Corps Norway offen- 
sive, which has become bogged down on the Litsa River. 

10 Fuehrer Directive No. 37 stops all offensive operations in the Army 
of Norway zone. 

14 The Army Group North begins an advance via Chudovo to Tikh- 

vin to make contact with the Army of Karelia in the vicinity of 
the Svir River. 


25 Finland signs the Anti-Comintern Pact. 

5 & 6 Finnish troops capture Medvezh'yegorsk and Povenets, there- 
by ending the Finnish offensive of 1941 . 
6 Great Britain declares war on Finland. 

15 Hitler, after long hesitation, agrees to the evacuation of Tikhvin 

and a withdrawal of the Army Group North troops to the 
Volkhov River. 


14 Dietl assumes command of German troops in Finland as Com- 
manding General, Army of Lapland. 

22 Hitler orders the defenses of Norway strengthened and instructs 
the Navy to employ "each and every vessel in Norway." 



12 The German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen 
leave Brest and break through the English Channel. 


6-9 The battleship Tirpitz searches for Convoy PQ 12 without result. 

14 Hitler orders intensified naval and air action against the arctic 



24 The Soviet spring offensive against the Finnish III Corps begins 
east of Kesten'ga. 

27 The Soviet spring offensive against the Mountain Corps Norway 


15 The Mountain Corps Norway defensive battle concludes 


23 The Finnish III Corps counterattack is halted. 

4 The Fifth Air Force begins successful attacks on Convoy PQ 17. 
21 Fuehrer Directive No. 44 authorizes planning for a combined 
German-Finnish thrust to Belomorsk (Operation Lachsfang). 
23 Fuehrer Directive No. 45 orders the Army Group North to capture 
Leningrad by September (Operation Nordlicht). 


27 The Russians open an offensive east of Leningrad. 

1 Operation Lachsfang is canceled. 

30 & 3 1 A sortie by the Hipper and the Luetzow against Convoy JW 
51 A fails. 


6 Hitler declares his intention to take all of the heavy ships out of 
commission. Admiral Raeder submits his resignation, which is 

12 & 18 A Russian offensive re-establishes land contact with 


9 The Finnish Parliament is informed that Germany cannot win the 


1 7 The Army Group North is ordered to prepare an operation against 
Leningrad (Operation Parkplatz). 



8 A German task force with the Tirpitz executes Operation Zitro- 
nella against Spitzbergen. 
22 British midget submarines damage the Tirpitz. 

28 Fuehrer Directive No. 50 orders the Twentieth Mountain Army to 
prepare to hold northern Finland in the event that Finland leaves 
the war. 


6 A Russian offensive begins at the junction of the Army Groups 
North and Center east of Nevel. 

December / 
26 The Scharnhorst is sunk off northern Norway in action with the 
Duke of York and destroyers. 


14 The final Russian offensive to liberate Leningrad begins. 
1 9 The liberation of Leningrad . 

30 The Army Group North is given permission to withdraw to the 

Luga River line. 

1 2 Paasikivi goes to Stockholm to receive the Soviet peace terms. 

8 Finland rejects the Soviet terms. 
26 Paasikivi and Enckell resume the negotiations in Moscow. 


1 8 Finland rejects the second Soviet peace offer. 

1 The Russian summer offensive against Finland begins. 
26 The Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement is signed. 


15-20 The Russian summer offensive ends. 

4 Mannerheim is elected President of Finland. 
25 Finland asks the Soviet Union to receive a peace delegation. 


4 Finland and the Soviet Union agree to a cease fire. 

6 Operation Birke, the withdrawal of the Twentieth Mountain Army 

to northern Finland begins. 

19 Finland signs an armistice with the Soviet Union. 


3 Hitler approves Operation Nordlicht, the withdrawal of the 
Twentieth Mountain Army into Norway. 

7 The Russians open an offensive against the XIX Mountain Corps. 



1 2 The Tirpitz is bombed and capsizes in the harbor at Tromso. 

1 8 Rendulic assumes command in Norway and the Twentieth Moun- 
tain Army absorbs the Army of Norway. 


30 Operation Nordlicht ends. 

8 An Allied delegation arrives to receive the surrender of the German 
forces in Norway. 


Appendix C 

List of Major Participants 

BAMLER, Rudolf, Generalleutnant; Chief of Staff Army of Norway — 
15 May 42-30 Apr 44. 

BERGER, Gottlob, SS-Brigadefuehrer (Brigadier General). 

BLUEGHER, Wipert von; German Minister in Finland— 1935-1944. 

BOEHME, Franz, General der Gebirgstruppe; Commanding General, 
XVIII Mountain Corps— 20 Oct 41-10 Dec 43; Armed 
Forces Commander, Norway, and Commanding General, 
Twentieth Mountain Army — 18 Jan 45-8 May 45. 

BOEHME, Hermann, Generaladmiral — 1 Apr 41 ; Commanding Admiral, 
Norway— 10 Apr 40-31 Jan 43. 

BRAEUER, Curt, German Minister in Norway — 1939-9 Apr 40; Minister 
and Plenipotentiary of the German Reich in Norway — 
9 Apr-17 Apr 40. 

BRAUCHITSCH, Walter von, Generaloberst— 4 Feb 38, Generalfeld- 

marschall — 19 Jul 40; Commander in Chief of the 
German Army— 4 Feb 38-19 Dec 41. 

BUSCHENHAGEN, Erich, Oberst (Colonel)— 1 Mar 38, Generalma- 

jor — 1 Aug 41 ; Chief of Staff, XXI Corps, Group 
XXI, and Army of Norway— Sep 39-May 42 . 
CARLS, Rolf, Admiral; Commanding Admiral, Baltic Sea Station — 1 
Nov 38-20 Sep 40; Commanding Admiral, Naval Group 
East — 31 Oct 39-20 Sep 40; Commanding Admiral, Naval 
Group North— 21 Sep 40-1 Mar 43. 
CHURCHILL, Winston Spencer, First Lord of the Admiralty — 5 Sep 39- 

10 May 40; Prime Minister, 10 May-Jul 45. 
CORK, Lord William Henry Dudley Boyle, Admiral of the Fleet the 
Earl of Cork and Orrery; Naval Commander of the Narvik 
Expedition — 10 Apr 40; Commander of all forces committed 
to the task of capturing Narvik — 21 Apr-Jun 40 (after 7 May, 
also including the military forces in the Mosj6en-Bod6 area). 
DALADIER, Edouard, President of the French Council of Ministers and 
Minister of National Defense — Apr 38-Mar 40, also 
Minister of War and Foreign Affairs — -Sep 39-Mar 40; 
Minister of War — Mar-May 40. 


DIETL, Eduard, Generalmajor — 1 Apr 39, Generalleutnant — 1 Apr 40, 
General der Gebirgstruppe — 19 Jul 40, Generaloberst — 1 Jun 
42; Commanding General, 3d Mountain Division — 1 Sep 39-16 
Jun 40; Commanding General, Mountain Corps Norway — 16 
Jun 40-15 Jan 42; Commanding General, Army of Lapland 
(after June 1942 Twentieth Mountain Army) — 15 Jan 42-23 
Jun 44. 

DOENITZ, Karl, Konteradmiral— 1939, Grossadmiral— 30 Jan 43; Com- 
manding Admiral, Submarines — 1 Jan 36-1 May 45; 
Commander in Chief of the German Navy — 30 Jan 43-1 
May 45; Chief of State and Commander in Chief of the 
German Armed Forces — 1 May 45-8 [23] May 45. 

ERFURTH, Waldemar, General der Infanterie; Chief, Liaison Staff 
North later German General at Finnish Headquarters — 1 3 
Jun 41-6 Sep 44. 

FALKENHORST, Nikolaus von, General der Infanterie— 1 Oct 39, Gen- 
eraloberst — 19 Jul 40; Commanding General, XXI 
Corps — 1 Sep 39-1 Mar 40; Commanding General, 
Group XXI— 1 Mar 40-19 Dec 40; Armed Forces 
Commander, Norway — 25 Jul 40-18 Dec 44; Com- 
manding General, Army of Norway — 19 Dec 40-18 
Dec 44. 

FEIGE, Hans, General der Kavallerie; Commanding General, XXXVI 
Corps — Jun-Nov 41 . 

FEURSTEIN, Valentin, Generalleutnant; Commanding General, 2d 
Mountain Division — 1 Sep 40-4 Mar 41 . 

FISCHER, Hermann, Oberst (Colonel); Commanding Officer of the 340th 
Infantry Regiment — Apr-May 40. 

FORBES, Admiral Sir Charles; Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet; 

Commander of naval operations in the Norwegian area — 
Apr-Jun 40. 

FRAUENFELD, Alfred, Gauleiter; Plenipotentiary of the German Reich 
in Norway — Apr 40. 

GEISSLER, Hans, Generalleutnant; Commanding General, X Air Corps — 
1939-15 Dec 40 [Norway]. 

GOERING, Hermann, Generalfeldmarschall — 4 Feb 38, Reichsmar- 
schall — 19 Jul 40; Commander in Chief of the German Air 

HAGELIN, Wiljam, Quisling's representative in Germany 39-40; Min- 
ister of Commerce in Quisling's Norwegian Government of 
Apr 40. 

HALDER, Franz, Generaloberst — 19 Jul 40; Chief of the Army General 
Staff— 1 Nov 38-24 Sep 42. 


HEINRICHS, Erik, Kenraaliluutnantti— 1941, Jalkavaenkenraali— 1942; 

Chief of Staff of the Finnish Army— 1939-1941; Com- 
manding General, Army of Karelia — 28 Jun 41 -Jan 42; 
Chief of Staff of the Finnish Army — Jan 42-Jan 45; 
Commander in Chief of the Finnish Army — Jan 45. 
HENGL, Georg Ritter von, Generalmajor — 1 Apr 42, Generalleutnant — 1 
Jan 43, General der Gebirgstruppe — 1 Jan 44; Commanding 
Officer, 137th Mountain Regiment— 24 Feb 40-2 Mar 42; 
Commanding General, 2d Mountain Division — 2 Mar 42-23 
Oct 43; Commanding General, XIX Mountain Corps — 23 Oct 
43-21 Apr 44; Chief, National Socialist Leadership Staff, 
OKH — 1 5 May 44. 
HIMER, Kurt, Generalmajor— 1940; Chief of Staff of XXXI Corps— 

1940; Military Plenipotentiary in Denmark — 9 Apr 40. 
HIMMLER, Heinrich, Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German Police — 

HITLER, Adolf, Chancellor of the German Reich— 30 Jan 33; Fuehrer 
and Chancellor — 1934-1945; Commander in Chief of the 
Armed Forces — 2 Aug 34-30 Apr 45 ; Commander in Chief of 
the Army— 19 Dec 41-30 Apr 45. 
HOCHBAUM, Friedrich, Generalleutnant — 1 Jul 43, General der In- 
fanterie — 1 Sep 44; Commanding General, XVIII 
Mountain Corps — 25 Jun 44-8 May 45. 
JODL, Alfred, Generalmajor — 1 Apr 39, General der Artillerie 7 Jul 40, 
Generaloberst — 1 Feb 44; Chief of the German Armed Forces 
Operations Staff— Apr 38-8 [23] May 45. 
JODL, Ferdinand, General der Gebirgstruppe — 1 Sep 44; Commanding 
General, XIX Mountain Corps — 15 May 44-8 May 45 (simul- 
taneously Commanding General, Armeeabteilung Narvik — 1 
Dec 44-8 May 45). 
KAUPISCH, Leonhard, General der Flieger; Commanding General, 
XXXI Corps, later Commanding General of the German 
Troops in Denmark — Sep 39-Jan 41. 
KEITEL, Wilhelm, Generaloberst— 1 Nov 38, Generalfeldmarschall— 19 
Jul 40; Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces High 
Command— 4 Feb 38-8 [131 May 45. 
KIVIMAKI, T. M.: Finnish Minister in Germany— 1940-1945. 
KOLLONTAY, Alexandra, Soviet Minister in Sweden. 
KRANCKE, Theodor, Kapitaen zur See (Captain)— 1940; Chief of the 
first planning staff for Operation Weseruebung — 5 Feb- 
24 Feb 40; Naval representative on the staff of Group 
XXI— Feb-Apr 40. 
KUECHLER, Georg von, Generalfeldmarschall; Commanding General, 

Army Group North — 15 Jan 42-31 Jan 44. 
LEEB, Wilhelm Ritter von; Generalfeldmarschall; Commanding General, 
Army Group North — 1 Apr 41-16 Jan 42. 


LOSSBERG, Bernhard von, Oberst (Colonel) ; Operations Staff, OKW— 
1 Sep 39-12 Jan 42; Operations Officer, Army of Norway — 
12 Jan 42-5 May 44. 
LUETJENS, Guenther, Vizeadmiral; Commanding Admiral, Fleet — 18 

Jun 40-27 May 41. 
MACKESY, P. J., Major General; Commanding General of British Troops 
for Operation Wilfred: Army commanding general in the 
Narvik area — Apr-5 May 40. 
MANNERHEIM, Baron Carl Gustaf, Field Marshal— 19 May 33, Mar- 
shal of Finland — 4 Jun 42; Commander in Chief of 
the Finnish Army; President of Finland — 4 Aug 44- 
4 Mar 46. 

MANSTEIN, Fritz Erich von, Generalfeldmarschall; Commanding Gen- 
eral, Eleventh Army — Sep 41 -Nov 42. 
MARCKS, Erich, Generalmajor; Chief of Staff, Eighteenth Army. 
MARSCHALL, Wilhelm, Admiral; Commanding Admiral, Fleet — 24 
Apr-17 Jun 40. 

MIKOYAN, Anastas Ivanovich, People's Commissar for Foreign Trade 
of the Soviet Union— 1938-1949. 

MILCH, Erhard, Generaloberst — 31 Oct 38; Commanding General, 5th 
Air Force— 12 Apr-10 May 40. 

MODEL, Walter, Generaloberst; Commanding General, Army Group 
North— 31 Jan-31 Mar 44. 

MOLOTOV, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich, People's Commissar for Foreign 
Affairs of the Soviet Union— 1939-1949. 

PAASIKIVI, Juho Kusti, Chairman of the Finnish delegation for negotia- 
tions with the Soviet Union — 1939; Chairman of the 
Finnish peace delegation in Moscow — Mar 40; Finnish 
Minister in the Soviet Union — Mar 40-Jun 41 ; President 
of Finland — 6 Mar 46-1 Mar 50. 

PELLENGAHR, Richard, General, 196th Infantry Division— Apr-May 

POHLMAN, Hartwig, Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) — 1940; Mili- 
tary Plenipotentiary in Norway — 1 Apr 40. 
QUISLING, Vidkun, Norwegian politician and official; leader of the 
Norwegian Nasjonal Samling Party; holder of various 
offices in the German puppet government of Norway. 
RAEDER, Erich Grossadmiral — 1 Apr 39; Commander in Chief of the 
German Navy and Chief, Naval Staff— 1 Jun 35-30 Jan 43. 
RAMSAY, Henrik, Finnish Minister — Feb 43-Aug 44. 
RENDULIC, Lothar, Generaloberst; Commanding General Twentieth 
Mountain Army — 28 Jun 44-15 Jan 45; Armed Forces 
Commander, Norway — 18 Dec 44-15 Jan 45. 
RENTHE-FINK, Cecil von, German Minister in Denmark— 1936-9 Apr 
40; Minister and Plenipotentiary of the German 
Reich in Denmark— 9 Apr 40-1942. 


REYNAUD, Paul, President of the French Council of Ministers — Mar- 

Jun 40; Foreign Minister — Mar-May 40. 
RIBBENTROP, Joachim von, German Foreign Minister— 4 Feb 38-2 
May 45. 

RITTER, Karl, Ambassador on special assignment in the German Foreign 

Ministry— 1939-1945. 
ROSENBERG, Alfred, Reichsleiter, Head of the Foreign Political Office 
of the Nazi Party (Aussenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP) — 

RUGE, Otto, Generalmajor, Commander in Chief of the Norwegian 

Army — 11 Apr-8 Jun 40. 
RYTI, Risto Heikki, President of Finland— Dec 40-1 Aug 44. 
SCHEIDT, Hans-Wilhelm, Reichsamtsleiter, Director of the Department 

for Northern Europe, Foreign Political Office of the Nazi 


SCHELL, Adolf von, Generalleutnant; Commanding General, 25th 

Panzer Division — 1 Jan 43-15 Nov 43. 
SCHNIEWIND, Otto, Vizeadmiral— 1939; Chief of Staff, Naval Staff— 

22 Aug 39-10 Jan 41. 
SCHNURRE, Karl, Minister; Head of Division W IV in the Economic 
Policy Department of the German Foreign Ministry — 

SCHOERNER, Ferdinand, Generalmajor — 1 Aug 40, Generalleutnant — 
15 Jan 42, General der Gebirgstruppe — 1 Jun 42; Com- 
manding General, 6th Mountain Division — 1 Jun 40-1 5 
Jan 42; Commanding General, Mountain Corps Nor- 
way later XIX Mountain Corps — 15 Jan 42-23 Oct 43, 
Commanding General, Army Group North — 23 Jul 
44-17 Jan 45. 

SIILASVUO, H., Kenraalimajuri— 1941, Kenraaliluutnantti— 1942; Com- 
manding General, Finnish III Corps — Jun 41-Jun 42; 
commanding general of Finnish troops in northern Fin- 
land — Sep 44. 

STUMPFF, Hans-Juergen, General der Flieger, Generaloberst — 19 Jul 
40; Commanding General, Fifth Air Force — 11 May 40- 
5 Nov 43. 

TALVELA, Paavo, Kenraalimajuri — 1941, Keneraaliluutnanti — 1942; 

Commanding General, Finnish VI Corps — Jun 41-Jan 42; 
Finnish General at German Headquarters — 19 Jan 42- 
21 Feb 43; Commanding General, Maaselka Front — 24 
Feb 43-16 Jun 44; Commanding General, Svir Front — 
16 Jun-18 Jul 44; Finnish General at German Head- 
quarters — Jul-6 Sep 44. 

TERBOVEN, Joseph, Reichskommissar for the Occupied Norwegian Ter- 
ritories — 24 Apr 40-5 May 45. 


TODT, Fritz, Reich Minister for Arms and Munition; Plenipotentiary 
General for Construction Industry, Four Year Plan. 

VELTJENS, Joseph; businessman and lieutenant colonel in the German 
Air Force who frequently acted as Goering's personal rep- 
resentative in military and economic negotiations. 

VOGEL, Emil, Generalleutnant — 1 Apr 43, General der Gebirgstruppe — 

9 Nov 44; Commanding General, XXXVI Mountain Corps — 

10 Aug 44-8 May 45. 

VOROSHILOV, Klimenti, Marshal; Commanding General, Northwest 
Front— 1941. 

WARLIMONT, Walter, Colonel— 1 Feb 38, Generalmajor— 1 Aug 41, 
General der Artillerie — 1 Apr 44; Chief of the National 
Defense Branch, OKW— 1 Sep 39; Deputy Chief of the 
Armed Forces Operations Staff — 1 Jan 42-6 Sep 44. 
WEISENBERGER, Karl F., General der Infanterie; Commanding Gen- 
eral, XXXVI Mountain Corps— 29 Nov 41-10 
Aug 44. 

WITTING, Rolf, Finnish Foreign Minister— Mar 40-Feb 43. 
WOYTASCH, Kurt, Generalmajor; Commanding General, 181st Infantry 
Division — 1940. 

ZEITZLER, Kurt, General der Infanterie — 24 Sep 42, Generaloberst — 1 
Feb 44; Chief of the Army General Staff— 25 Sep 42-20 
Jul 44. 

Bibliographical Note 

The narrative in this volume is based in the main on German military 
records in the custody of the National Archives. Unfortunately, many 
of the documents pertaining to the 1940 Norwegian operation were 
destroyed in 1942 by a fire in the Potsdam Heeresarchiv. For the suc- 
ceeding years the records of the field commands — the Army of Norway, 
the Twentieth Mountain Army, and their subordinate units — are com- 
plete and all together total several hundred volumes. It was also 
possible to assemble substantial numbers of Armed Forces High Com- 
mand, Army High Command, Navy High Command, and Foreign 
Ministry documents. Copies of the German naval documents are in the 
custody of the Director of Naval History, U.S. Navy Department. The 
Foreign Ministry Documents are in the custody of the U.S. State De- 

In order to come even near adequately exploiting this large and 
virtually untouched collection of primary source material within the 
practical limits of time and space, it was necessary to concentrate on the 
German story. For most of the other nations involved, detailed ac- 
counts are available in their official histories: Krigen Norge 1940 (Nor- / 
way) , Suomen Sota 1941-1945 (Finland), and T. K. Deny, The Cam-V 
paign in Norway (Great Britain). A number of works by German 


authors have also appeared. The most substantial of them are Walther 
Hubatsch, Die deutsche Besetzung von Daenemark und Norwegen 1940 
(Goettingen: "Musterschmidt," 1952); Waldemar Erfurth, Der fin- 
nische Krieg 1941—1944 (Wiesbaden: Limes Verlag, 1950); and 
Wilhelm Hess, Eismeerfront 1941 (Heidelberg: Kurt Vowinkel Verlag, 


Anti-Comintern Pact The treaty directed against the Soviet Union 

and the Communist International con- 
cluded by Germany, Italy, and Japan in 
November 1936. 

Arctic Ocean Highway The road in Finnish Lapland connecting 

Rovaniemi and Pechenga. 
Aufmarschanweisung Directive for strategic concentration. 

Divisionsgruppe ( Divi- A collection of units under a division head- 
sional Group ) . quarters but without the normal organi- 

zation and equipment of an infantry or 
other type division. 

Export Echelon (Ausfuhr- German supply ships disguised as merchant 
staff el ) . / ships employed in the invasion of Norway. 

Front (Finnish) One of three "fronts" established in Jan- 
uary 1942 on the Maaselka, the Isthmus 
of Olonets, and the Isthmus of Karelia. 

Front (Soviet) An army group. 

"fortress" battalions (Fes- 

tungsbataillone ) Battalions, usually made up of older men 

and limited service men, intended for 
garrison and guard assignments. 

Gauleiter The territorial leaders of the Nazi Party. 

I. G. Farben German chemical manufacturing concern. 

Jaeger brigade Light infantry brigade. 

Kampfgruppe An ad hoc combat team of variable strength. 

Karinhall Goering's mansion near Berlin. 

Leads The channel inside the chain of islands off 

the Norwegian west coast. 
Lufthansa The German civilian air line. 

Marinegruppe (Naval Naval operating command, designated by 
Command Group ) . area of responsibility, such as North, West, 


motti Literally "a bundle of sticks." A type of 

encirclement developed by the Finnish 
Army for forest warfare. 


Murmansk Railroad The railroad connecting Leningrad and the 

arctic port of Murmansk completed dur- 
ing World War I. Rebuilt under the 
Soviet Government and later officially re- 
named the Kirov Railroad. 

National Defense Branch 
( Abteilung Landesver- 

teidigung) OKW The staff section of the OKW primarily 

concerned with war plans. 

Nazi-Soviet Pact The nonaggression treaty between Germany 

and the Soviet Union signed on 23 August 
1939 and its secret protocols. 

Nebelwerfer Rocket projector. 

Nikkeli O.Y Finnish corporation controlling the nickel 

mines at Pechenga. 

Obergruppenfuehrer An SS rank equivalent to lieutenant general. 

OKH ( Oberkommando 

des Heeres) Army High Command. 

OKL ( Oberkommando 

der Luftwaffe) Air Force High Command. 

OKM (Oberkommando 

der Kriegsmarine ) Navy High Command. 

OKW (Oberkommando 

der Wehrmacht) Armed Forces High Command. 

Panzer Tank. 

Reichsamtsleiter A German civil service rank. 

Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler's title as chief of the SS. 

Reichskommissar A title given to the chief administrative offi- 
cers in certain of the German-occupied 

Reichsstrasse 50 The road along the northern coast of Nor- 
way between Narvik and Kirkenes com- 
pleted in 1940. 

SD (Sicherheitsdienst) The intelligence service of the SS which in 

1944 assumed control of all German for- 
eign intelligence. 

SS (Schutzstaffel) The elite military and police organization 

of the Nazi Party. 

SS-Brigadefuehrer An SS rank equivalent to brigadier general. 

SS-Kampfgruppe An SS combat organization of approxi- 

mately divisional size. 
Stuka ( Sturtzkampfflug- Dive bomber, 
zeug) . 


Three Power Pact The German-Italian- Japanese treaty of 

alliance concluded in September 1940. 

Winter War The Russo-Finnish conflict November 

1939-March 1940. 

Code Names 


Barbaros s a Invasion of the Soviet Union, 2 2 June 1 94 1 
Birke Plan for withdrawal of Twentieth Mountain Army into north- 
ern Lapland, 1944 
Blaufuchs 1 and 2 Transfer of XXXVI Corps forces from Germany 

and Norway to Finland, June 1941 
Gelb Invasion of France and the Low Countries, 10 May 1940 
Harpune Deception staged to divert attention from BARBAROSSA, 

May- August 1941 
Hartmut Submarine operations in support of WESERUEBUNG, 

April 1940 

Ikarus Proposed occupation of Iceland, June 1940 
Juno Fleet operations off Norway, June 1 940 

Klabauterm ann PT Boat operations on Lake Ladoga, summer 1 942 
Lachsfang Proposed German-Finnish operations against Kandalak- 
sha and Belomorsk, summer and fall 1942 
Naumburg Proposed landing in Lyngen Fiord to relieve Narvik, June 

Nordlicht Projected operations against Leningrad, fall 1942 

Nordlight Withdrawal of Twentieth Mountain Army from Finland, 
October 1944-January 1945 

Panther Position Narva River-Lake Peipus line of field fortifica- 
tions, constructed in fall 1 943 

Parkplatz Proposed operation against Leningrad, spring 1943 

Platinfuchs Operations of Mountain Corps Norway, 1941 

Polarfuchs Operations of XXXVI Corps, 1941 

Polarfuchs Code-name used in Soviet accounts of an alleged German 
plan to invade Sweden in 1943 

Renntier Standby plan for the occupation of Pechenga, August 1 940- 
June 1941 

Silberftjchs Operations of Army of Norway and attached Finnish 

units out of Northern Finland, 1941 
Tanne Proposed occupation of Suursaari (TANNE OST) and the 

Aland Islands (TANNE WEST), 1944 
Weseruebung Occupation of Norway and Denmark, 9 April 1940 
Weseruebung Nord Operations in Norway, spring 1 940 
Weseruebung Sued Operations in Denmark, spring 1940 
Wiesengrund Proposed occupation of the Rybatchiy Peninsula, sum- 
mer 1942 


Wildente Air-sea landing near Mo, 10 May 1940 
Zitronella Spitzbergen raid, 8 September 1943 
Zittadelle Operation against the Kursk salient in southern Russia, 
5 July 1943 


Catherine Plan for sending battleships into the Baltic Sea, September 

Hammer Proposed direct operation against Trondheim, April 1940 
Jupiter Proposed occupation for Pechenga and Banak, 1942-^13 
Plan R 4 Projected occupation of bases in Norwaf following WIL- 
FRED, April 1940 
Royal Marine Proposed sowing of fluvial mines in the Rhine River, 

April 1940 

Sledgehammer Plan for large-scale raids Norway to France in 1942 
Wilfred Mining of Norwegian territorial waters, April 1940 



Acasta, 107 

Administrative Council, 57 

Air Ministry, German, 8 

Air Power, influence on invasion of Nor- 
way, 111 

Air Transport, 56 

Air Units, German 

X Air Corps, 30f., 33, 36-38 
7th Air Division, 13, 15, 17ff. 
4th Bombardment Wing, 36 
26th Bombardment Wing, 36 
30th Bombardment Wing, 36 
100th Bombardment Wing, 36 
Fifth Air Force, creation of, 31 
Finland, 1311, 142, 166, 183, 230, 

Luftgaukommando, 31 
operations against convoys, 236ff., 269 
Reconnaissance Squadron, "Rowel," 

1st Special Purpose Transport Wing, 

108th Special Purpose Transport 

Wing, 36 
Transport Chief, (Land), 36, 38 
Transport Chief (Sea), 36, 38 

Aland Islands, 114, 276, 292 

Allied Supreme War Council, 23, 24 

Altmark Incident, 16 

Arctic climate, effect on operations, 159, 
164, 166n, 187, 209, 317 

Arctic Railroad, 264f. 

Arctic warfare, conditions, 317 

Ardent, 107 

Armed Forces Commander, Norway, 

127, 221, 311 
Armed Forces High Command. See 

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. 
Armies, German 

Armee Abteilung Narvik, 312 
Army of Lapland, 183, 213, 221-23. 
See also Armies, German, Twen- 
tieth Mountain. 
Army of Norway, 119 

Norway 1942-45, 217, 218f., 
252-64. See also Armies, 
German, Army of Lapland, 
planning for Silberfuchs, 122, 

Silberfuchs, 137f., 152, 167, 
170, 176-78, 184-87 

Armies, German — Continued 
Eighteenth Army, 233, 234, 272 
Eleventh Army, 233f., 235 
Fourth Panzer Group, 200 
Group XXI 

formation of, 18 
renamed Army of Norway, 119 
Weseruebung, 30-32, 39, 65f., 
68, 70f., 91, 123 
Sixth Army, 242, 243 
Third Panzer Group, 193 
Twentieth Mountain A rm Y> 230, 231, 
242, 245, 249, 251, 276-78, 283, 
312, 314 

German employment of, 72f., 257—60 
Soviet employment of, 280, 306 
Army Group Center, 247, 286 
Army Group North, 193, 195, 198, 
200-203, 233-35, 242, 247, 249f., 
251, 272f., 287 
Army High Command. See Oberkom- 
mando des Heeres. 
Atlantis, 107 

Aufmarschanweisung Barbarossa, 125, 

Baltic- White Sea Canal, 132 

Bamler, Rudolf, 253, 260n, 263f. 

"Baptism of Fire," 41 

Base North, 5 

Battalions, German 

4th Motorized Machine Gun, 68 
13th Motorized Machine Gun, 68 
14th Motorized Machine Gun, 68 
27th Royal Prussian Jaeger, 120, 290 

Battleships, German, 216f., 240 

Belomorsk-Obozerskaya bypass, 208n 

Berger, Gottlob, 119 

Biene, Operation, 104 

Birke, Operation, 277, 281, 292-300 

Blaufuchs, Operations, 138 

Bluecher, 28, 51 

Bluecher, Wipert von, 197n 

Boehme, Franz, 228, 312, 314 

Bornholm, occupation of, 60 

Braeuer, Dr. Curt, 39, 56-58 

Brandenburg Regiment z.b.V., 225 

Brauchitsch, Walter von, 4n, 18, 63, 64, 

Bremen, 65, 108 
Bremse, 27, 48, 54, 149 


Brigades, German 

Bicycle Reconnaissance Brigade "Nor- 
way," 303 
139th, 309 

Machine Gun Ski, 299, 303, 304 
11th Motorized Rifle, 15, 19, 35, 59, 

303d Self-propelled Assault Gun, 282, 
284, 295 
British Admiralty, 54, 152 
British Army Units 

15th Brigade, 73, 75 

146th Brigade, 78 

148th Brigade, 73 

Independent Companies, 95, 99 

Scots Guards, 90, 95f., 98 
British Naval Commands 

2d Cruiser Squadron, 44 

2d Destroyer Flotilla, 53 

Home Fleet, 44, 53 
Bueffel, Operation, 102 
Buschenhagen, Erich, 119, 124, 127, 
134, 149, 168, 177 

postwar comment on German strat- 
egy, 316 
Cairo, 101 

Denmark, 60 

Finland, 291 

Norway, 104 

Twentieth Mountain Army, 313f. 
Carls, Rolf, 5 
Catherine, Plan, 22 
Chrobry, 92 

Churchill, Winston S., 22, 90, 109, 208, 
2 1 7f . 

Citadel, Copenhagen, 60 
Cork, Lord William Henry Dudley 
Boyle, the Earl of Cork and Or- 
rery, 90, 106 
Corps, German 

XXI, 16, 17. See also Armies, Ger- 
man, Group XXI. 
XXXI, 30, 35, 59-62 
XXXIII, 138, 253, 263 

defensive operations, 1942-44, 

222, 231, 246, 249, 275 
Operation Birke, 277, 292-300 
Operation Nordlicht, 302, 307, 

309, 312 
Operation Polarfuchs, 129-31, 
138, 146, 157-67, 170-78, 184 
renamed XXXVI Mountain 
Corps, 209 

Corps, German — Continued 
XXXIX, 200-203 
LXX, 138, 253, 263 
LXXI, 308, 311 
Mountain, Norway 

Operation Platinfuchs, 129f., 

137, 139, 140-56 
Operation Renntier, 115 
1942, 221, 223, 225-7. See 
also Corps, German, XIX 

XVIII Mountain, 228, 230, 246, 249, 
277, 292-95, 309 

XIX Mountain, 245, 303-08, 312, 
Cossack, 16 

Curlew, 92 

martial law, 1943, 266 
neutrality, 1—3 
occupation of, 59—62 
Destroyer battles of Narvik, 53, 54 
Dietl, Eduard, 46, 64, 129, 156, 183, 
209, 230n, 231, 242, 273, 279, 280, 

Divisions, German 

14th Air Force Field, 254, 262 
SS-Division "Nord," 157, 158f., 162, 

167ff., 179-81, 222, 230n, 293n, 

295, 299, 312 
Divisionsgruppe Kraeutler, 293n, 295, 

297, 299, 300, 304 
Divisionsgruppe Rossi, 245, 303n 
Divisionsgruppe van der Hoop, 303, 


SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord," 125, 126, 
128, 137. See also Divisions, Ger- 
man, SS-Division "Nord." 

69th Infantry, 19, 33ff., 59, 71, 82- 

122d Infantry, 282, 284, 286 
163d Infantry, 

Finland 139, 162, 164, 167, 177, 
185, 190, 191, 199, 225, 230n, 
304-08, 312 
Norway, 19, 33ff., 66, 70, 72, 82, 

169th Infantry, 130, 159-67, 170-77, 

222, 293f., 309, 312 
170th Infantry, 19, 35, 59 
181st Infantry, 19, 33, 59, 70, 78, 

257, 261n, 263 
196th Infantry, 19, 33, 59, 66, 70, 

72ff., 255, 261n, 267 
198th Infantry, 19, 35, 59 
199th Infantry, 130, 137, 312 


Divisions, German — Continued 
210th Infantry, 230, 245, 303 
214th Infantry, 19, 33, 59, 85, 261, 

. 269th Infantry, 261 
274th Infantry, 262 
295th Infantry, 256, 262 
416th Infantry, 276 
702d Infantry, 137 
710th Infantry, 139 
22d Infantry (airborne), 13, 15, 17, 

2d Mountain, 65 

Finland, 115, 122, 128, 130, 137, 
140-53, 221, 226, 303-10, 312 
Norway, 81, 95-99, 102, 105 
3d Mountain 

Finland, 115, 130, 137, 139, 140- 

53, 215, 217, 218, 234 
Norway 19, 33, 46, 87-95, 99- 
104, 215, 217, 218, 234 
5th Mountain, 209, 218, 223, 231, 

6th Mountain, 147, 149, 152, 154, 

156, 177, 221, 225, 303-10 
6th SS-Mountain, "Nord." See SS- 

Division "Nord." 
7th Mountain, 209, 210, 221, 228, 

293n, 295, 297, 298, 312 
25th Panzer, 215, 217, 253, 255n, 262, 


Panzer, Norway, 267 
SS-Panzer Grenadier, "Wiking," 120, 

Doenitz, Karl, 5, 240, 271, 313 
"Dora" (German 800-mm. gun), 233n 
Duke of York, 270 
Eidsvold, 46 

Einsatzgruppe Wiking, 264f. 
Enckell, Carl, 274 

Erfurth, Waldemar, 135, 181, 186, 192, 

197, 210n 
Europa, 65, 108 
Export Echelon, 28, 40, 44, 55 
Falkenhorst, Nikolaus von, 16, 18, 3 Of., 

58, 60, 128, 164f., 179, 182, 183- 

87, 209, 210n, 214, 219, 220, 252, 

Farben, I. G., 114, 207 
Feige, Hans, 130, 159, 166, 184, 222 
Feurstein, Valentin, 95 
Fifth Column, 11 If. 

Anti-Comintern Pact, 207 

Finland — Continued 

Army reorganization, 201, 223 
British declaration of war, 208 
elections, 118 

military agreements, 132—35 
military forces, 188 
neutrality, 2 

peace moves, 243f., 248, 273-75, 282, 

railroads, 140, 207 
rapprochement with Germany, 113— 

21, 132-36 
recruitment for the SS, 119 
transport agreements, 115 
war aims, 204 

Winter War, 1939-40, 10, 23 
Finnish Units 

Armies and Fronts 

Army of Karelia, 189-92, 194, 
199, 203, 223 

Aunus Front, 223, 284 

Isthmus Front, 223, 232, 278, 
280f., 284 

Maselka Front, 223, 232, 285 

Cavalry, 288 

1st Jaeger, 189 

2d Jaeger, 189 

12th, 225 

15th, 298 

21st, 288 

Group O, 189-92, 199 

I, 192, 194 

II, 189, 191, 194, 200 

III, 125, 127, 131, 134, 139, 158, 
167-70, 179-82, 223-28, 279- 

IV, 189, 192, 194, 279-81 

V, 125n 

VI, 189, 190-92, 199 

VII, 189, 191, 199 

Armored Division, 232, 279, 298 
Division J. See Finnish Units, 

Divisions, 3d. 
1st, 189 
2d, 189 

3d, 158, 167-70, 179-82, 222, 

228, 298 
4th, 189 
5th, 189 

6th, 130, 158, 163, 166, 170-72, 
180, 222, 298 


Finnish Units — Continued 
Divisions — Continued 
7th, 189 
8th, 189 
10th, 189, 191 
11th, 189, 298 
12th, 189 

14th, 189, 194, 288, 293 
15th, 189 
17th, 189, 191 
18th, 189 
19th, 189 

Group F. See Finnish Units, 

Divisions, 3d. 
Group J. See Finnish Units, 
Divisions, 3d. 
Regiments and Battalions 

14th Regiment, 144, 179, 180, 

222, 228 
"Ivalo" Battalion, 141, 147n, 242 
Fischer, Hermann, 74 
Forbes, Sir Charles, 44, 1 1 1 
Frauenfeld, Alfred, 58n 
French Army Units 

5 th Demi-brigade of Chasseurs Al- 

pins, 78, 91, 95 
Foreign Legion, 92, 99 
Fuehrer Directives 
No. 9, 7 

No. 21 (Barbarossa), 121-24 

No. 36, 177, 179 

No. 37, 178, 208 

No. 40,216 

No. 44, 232 

No. 45, 233 

No. 50, 249, 251,277 
Furious, 54 
Gallivare, 2, 22 
Geissler, Hans, 30 
Gelb, Operation, 17, 19, 21 
Glommen Line, 34 
Glorious, 107 
Glowworm, 45 

Gneisenau, 27, 45, 53f., 104-08, 214, 

Goering, Hermann, 4n, 19, 102, 115, 

Graf Zeppelin, 236 
Grom, 92 

Group XXI. See Armies, German. 
Hagelin, Wiljam, 8 

Haider, Franz, 5, 12, 18, 119, 122, 124, 

126, 132, 136, 162, 200 
Hanko, 113, 114, 123, 126, 134, 139, 

190, 191, 203n, 274, 291 

Harpune Nord, Operation, 138 

Hartmut, Operation, 30 

Hegra, fort, 78 

Heimatstab Nord, 31, 138 

Heinrichs, Erik, 119, 126, 132, 134, 189, 
204n, 223, 232, 275, 282 

Himer, Kurt, 39, 60f. 

Himmler, Heinrich, 119, 162n, 181 

Hipper, 27, 45, 48, 54, 105-08, 216, 

Hitler, Adolf 

Arctic convoys, 1942, 237, 240 
comment on Scharnhorst, 271 
concluding operations in the North- 
ern Theater, 272, 274, 282, 286, 

conduct of operations in Norway and 

Denmark, 29, 58, 63-65, 73, 79, 

88, 101, 105 
decision to invade Norway, 9, 12, 14, 

17ff., 20, 22 
defense of Norway, 1942, 213-16 
defense of Scandinavia, 252, 256, 263, 


leadership, 110 

planning, 1942, 230, 231, 233ff. 

planning, 1943, 247, 251 

Russian campaign, 1941, 147, 152, 

154, 166, 183, 185n, 193, 200, 


•Russian campaign, planning, 114, 

Iceland, 108 
I. G. Farben, 114, 207 
Ikarus, Operation, 186 
Jaeger brigades, Finnish, 190f. See 

also Finnish Units, Brigades. 
Jan Wellem,46, 55, 88 
Jodl, Alfred, 4, 10, 17, 63, 132, 149, 

178, 198f., 233, 250, 256, 275, 307 
Juniper, 106 

Juno, Operation, 104-08 

Jupiter, Operation, 217 

JW convoys, 240, 268-71 

Kaholm, 51 

Karlsruhe, 50f., 54 

Kaupisch, Leonhard, 30, 60 

Keitel, Wilhelm, 4n, 12, 135, 196, 197, 
200, 229, 275, 288 

Kirov Railroad. See Murmansk Rail- 

Kiruna, 23 

Klabautermann, Operation, 230 
Koeln, 27, 48, 54 
Koenigsberg, 27, 48f., 54 


Kollontay, Alexandra, 273 

Krancke, Theodor, 14, 21 

Krancke Plan, 15, 17 

Kuechler, Georg von, 233, 272f. 

Lachsfang, Operation, 232-35 

Leeb, Wilhelm Kitter von, 193, 200, 202 

Leningrad, 195f., 197, 211, 231-35, 

242, 246, 247, 272, 316 
Levante, 7 

Liaison Staff North, 135, 188 
List, Wilhelm, 215 
Luetjens, Guenther, 108 
Luetzow,28, 52, 54, 217, 238, 240 
Mackesy, P. J., 90f. 

Mannerheim, Carl Gustaf von, 23, 116, 

120, 133, 183 
Army reorganization, 178, 223 
conduct of Finnish operations in 1941, 

188, 192, 196-99, 201, 204, 208, 

210, 211 

conduct of 1944 operations, 273, 279, 

282, 283, 286 
Jodl visit, 1943, 250 
president of Finland, 287-91 
reaction to Stalingrad, 242-45 
seventh-fifth birthday, 229 

Manstein, Fritz Erich von, 234 

Marcks Plan, 121, 123 

Marschall, Wilhelm, 105-08 

Midget submarines, 268 

Milch, Erhard, 3 1 

Mining, of Norwegian territorial waters 

World War I, 2 

World War II, 12, 24 
Model, Walter, 273 
Molotov, Vyacheslav M., 116 
Moiti, 194, 300 
Mowinkel Plan, 103 

Murmansk Railroad, 122, 184, 208, 

210n, 236, 317 
Narvik, 2, 87f. 

National Defense Branch, OKW. See 
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. 

National Union Party, 7f., 220 

Naumburg, Operation, 102 

Naval Commands, German 

Admiral of the Norwegian South 
Coast, 31 

Admiral of the Norwegian West 
Coast, 31 

Commanding Admiral, Norway, and 
Plenipotentiary of the Commander 
in Chief, Navy, 31 

Commanding Admiral, Submarines, 
5, 105 

Naval Commands, German — Continued 

Fleet Command, 104f., 108 

Naval Group East, 30 

Naval Group West, 30, 104, 107 
Naval Staff, German, 5f., 12, 18, 104, 

Nazi Party, Foreign Political Office of 

the, 8, 11 
Nazi-Soviet Pact, 10, 116 
Nickel mines, ore, 114, 117, 123, 185, 

207, 245, 250, 292, 301 
Nikkeli O. Y., 207n 

Nordlicht, Operation (1943), 233-35 
Nordlicht, Operation (1944), 300-10 
Norge, 46 

German administration, 219-21 

military forces, 15, 68f. 

neutrality, 1-3 

resistance movement, 220 
Norwegian Admiralty, 16, 43 
Norwegian Army Units 

4th Brigade, 82 

5th Brigade, 77,81 

1 st Division, 66 

2d Division, 69 

3d Division, 85 

6th Division, 34, 69,91 

2d Infantry Regiment, 85 

3d Infantry Regiment, 67 

8th Infantry Regiment, 85 
Norwegian officers, arrest of paroled, 

Nuernberg, 104, 108, 218 
Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, 132n 
Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), 4, 

18, 63, 125, 133, 135, 196, 202 
Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine 

(OKM),4, 30 
Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL), 

4, 18, 30 

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht 

Army of Lapland operations, 229 
Army of Norway operations, 1943-45, 
252, 254, 255ff. 
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht 

Silberfuchs, 122, 128, 132-35 
Studie Nord, 10 

Twentieth Mountain Army opera- 
tions, 244, 273, 277, 301, 307 

Weseruebung, 14, 18, 20, 29, 32, 


Oil Pioneer, 106 

OKH. See Oberkommando des Heeres. 
OKL. See Oberkommando der Luft- 

OKM. See Oberkommando der Kreigs- 

OKW. See Oberkommando der Wehr- 

Operations Order, for X Air Corps on 
Weser Day, 37 

Operations Order No. 1, for the occupa- 
tion of Denmark, 35f. 

Operations Order No. 1, for the occupa- 
tion of Norway, 32f. 

Operations Order No. 2, for the occupa- 
tion of Norway, 33-35 

Operations Staff, OKW, 4. See also 
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht 

Orama, 107 

Organisation Todt, 264 

Oscarsborg, 51 

Ostpreussen Staffel, 29. See also 

Sea Transport Echelons. 
Paasikivi, Juho K., 273 
Panther Line, 248, 251, 272, 274 
Parkplatz, Operation, 247 
Pechenga, 114, 115, 121, 139, 140 
Pellengahr, Richard, 74 
Plan R 4, 24 
Platinfuchs, Operation 

operations, 140-54 

plan, 128-30 

summary, 154—56 
Pohlman, Hartwig, 39, 56 
Pol III, 51 

Polarfuchs, Operation 

operations of XXXVI Corps, 158—67, 

operations of Finnish III Corps, 167— 
79, 179-82 

plan, 130f. 

summary, 184-87 
Polarfuchs, Operation (1943), 260n 
Polish Army units, 94, 99 
PQ Convoys, 236-41 
Prinz Eugen, 214, 216f. 
Propaganda, 38 
QP Convoys, 236n, 239 
Quisling, Vidkun, 8f., 11, 17, 57, 112, 

220, 314 
Radar, 45, 270 

Raeder, Erich, 3-5, 8, 12, 21, 57, 104f., 

131, 238, 240 
Ramsay, Henrik, 243 

Regiments, German 

6th SS-Death's-head, 126n 

7th SS-Death's-head, 126n 

"General Goering," 35, 75 

193d Infantry, 221 

288th Infantry, 221 

324th Infantry, 164, 222 

340th Infantry, 74 

388th Infantry, 147, 150 

138th Mountain, 34 

139th Mountain, 34, 222, 226, 293n 

7th SS, 174 

9th SS, 130, 147, 148f., 174 
Schuetzenverband Oslo, 177 
Reichsstrasse 50, 137, 139, 217, 264, 302 
Rendulic, Lothar, 283, 289, 290, 293, 
297, 311f. 

Renntier, Operation, 115, 128, 130, 

Renown, 45 

Renthe-Fink, Cecil von, 39, 60 
Reynaud, Paul, 24 

Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 11, 39, 282f. 
Rio de Janiero, 43 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 274 
Rosenberg, Alfred, 8, 1 1 
Royal Marine, Operation, 25 
Ruebel, Karl, 306ff. 
Ruge, Otto, 68 

Ryti-Ribbentrop agreement, 283, 289 
Ryti, Risto, 118, 121, 197, 204, 211, 

243, 250, 283, 287 
Scharnhorst, 27, 46, 53, 104-08, 214, 

216, 268-71 
Scheer, 216, 218, 236, 238 
Schell, Adolf von, 253, 257-60, 263 
Schellenberg, Walter, 313 
Schleswig-Holstein, 28, 59 
Schniewind, Otto, 5 
Schnurre, Karl, 121, 207n 
Schoerner, Ferdinand, 221, 287 
Sea Transport Echelons, 29, 40, 55 
Seekriegsleitung. See Naval Staff. 
Sevastopol, 234 
Siebel-ferries, 23 In 
Siege of Britain, 3ff. 

Siilasvuo, H., 168, 179-82, 227, 298n, 

Silberfuchs, Operation 

concentration of forces, 137-40 
XXXVI Corps and Finnish III Corps 
operations, 157—82 


Silberfuchs, Operation — Continued 

Mountain Corps Norway operations, 

operation orders, 128-32 

staff study, 124f. 

summary, 184-87 
Sledgehammer, Project, 217 
Southhampton, 103 
Soviet Army units 


Seventh, 190 

Fourteenth, 142n, 169, 224, 225, 

Nineteenth, 309 
Twenty-first, 278 
Twenty-third, 190 
Twenty-sixth, 224, 226 

Independent Grivnin, 179, 180 
8th Ski, 225, 226 
12th Naval, 225 
80th, 226 

85th Independent, 228 

XLII, 163 

IC Assault, 304, 307 

CXXVI Light, 304, 306, 308 

CXXVII Light, 308 

1st Tank, 163, 165, 170, 174 

10th Guards, 225 

14th Rifle, 142n, 225 

23d Guards, 225 

52d Rifle, 142n 

54th Rifle, 167, 179, 180 

88th Rifle, 169, 179 

104 Rifle, 163, 174, 176 

122d Rifle, 157, 163, 165, 174 

152d "Ural," 228 

Karelian, 223 

Northwest, 190 
Soviet Union 

German invasion of Norway, 13, 39 
German-Finnish relations, 116f. 
relations with Finlar.d 

1940-41, 113f., 118 

1944, 274, 283, 289, 291 
Spitzbergen, 237, 268 
Stalin, Joseph V., 239, 240, 274, 290 
Stalingrad, battle of, 242, 243 
State Councilors, Norwegian, 220 
Steinkjer, 78 

StudieNord, 10-13, 14, 29 
Stumpff, Hans-Juergen, 236 

bases, 3-7, 301 

at Narvik, 53 

torpedo failures, 53 

transport for Weseruebung, 56 
Suffolk, 111 

Supply, Finnish, 115, 188, 207, 275, 

282, 284, 290 
Supply, German 

Finland forces, 131, 137-40, 144, 149, 

227, 229, 231, 245, 251, 264, 292, 

295, 302, 307, 308 
Norway forces, 29, 31, 46, 55f., 88, 

104, 111, 214, 218, 252f., 264-67 
Suursaari, 223, 276, 296 
S vol vaer raid, 127 

German military planning, 13, 16, 38, 
125, 128, 139, 214, 219, 252-67, 
300, 302, 310 

neutrality, 1—3, 7 

offer to intern Twentieth Mountain 
Army, 313 

Tactical groups, German 
Group Fischer, 74—77 
Group Pellengahr, 74-77, 81 
Group Trondheim, 77-81 
Kampfgruppe Ost., 293, 297, 299n 
Kampfgruppe Ruebel, 306-08 
Kamfgruppe West, 293, 299 

Tactics, Soviet, 148, 187, 226, 280, 288, 

Talvela, Paavo, 119, 124, 126, 244, 290 
Tanker Echelon, 28, 40, 55 
Tanne Ost, Operation, 276, 292, 296 
Tanne West, Operation, 276, 292 
Teheran Conference, 274, 288 
Terboven, Joseph, 58, 64, 219-21, 266, 

312f., 314 

Denmark, 35 

Finland (Including Karelia and 
Kola), 141f., 143, 148, 155, 164, 
187,245, 306, 317 
Norway, 71, 87, 103, 316 
Sweden, 257 
Terrain, influence on operations, 141- 

44, 164, 171, 155, 187, 209, 317 
Three Power Pact, 117, 121 
Tirpitz, 216, 236, 239, 241, 268, 310f. 


Traegeriod, 239 

Trondheim, 77 

Troops, Soviet 
morale, 226, 280 
quality, 142, 155, 169, 280 

Tytarsaari, 223 

United States 

attitude toward Finland, 203, 205 
breach of consular relations, 230 
breach of diplomatic relations, 283 
effects to get Finland out of the war, 
182, 206, 243f., 274, 317 

Veltjens, Joseph, 115, 117 

Verdun, battle of, 233 

Verman Line, 176, 294 

Vist, 80 

Voroshilov, Klimenti, 190, 193 
Vyborg, 194, 281 

Warlimont, Walter, 30, 110, 147, 181 
Warship Echelons, 27f. 
Warspite, 54 

Weisenberger, Karl F., 222 

Weseruebung Nord 
Air Force, 36-38 
command, 30—32 
ground forces, 32-35 
Navy, 27-30 

operations, 44-55, 65-104 

planning, 10-22 

political planning, 38f . 

summary, 109—13 
Weseruebung Sued 

Air Force, 37 

ground forces, 35f. 

Navy, 28 

operations, 59—62 

planning, 16, 17 

political planning, 38f. 
Wiesengrund, Operation, 231 
Wildente, Operation, 97 
Wilfred, Operation, 24 
Witting, Rolf, 120, 207, 243 
Zitronella, Operation, 268 
Zittadelle, Operation, 247 


*U.S. Government Printing Office: 1972 O — 463-998